CHICAGO -- Its now or never for the St. Louis Cardinals.This weeks visit to Wrigley Field for a four-game series against the Chicago Cubs may represent their last chance to start closing an imposing gap with the National League Central leaders.Or it may signal a realization that the more practical objective is an NL Wild Card berths.The series opens Thursday as the Cardinals send right-hander Carlos Martinez (10-7, 3.29 ERA) against left-hander Jon Lester (12-4, 2.93 ERA).Martinez is coming off a 13-5 loss Saturday night to Atlanta, giving up seven runs over five innings, including a pair of three-run homers. Lester, who has three wins and two no-decisions in his last five outings, faces St. Louis for the first time this season .Just before the All-Star break the Cubs were mired in a 6-15 slump while the Cardinals had closed to within seven games of the division leaders. And with 10 head-to-head games ahead in the second half, St. Louis was thinking about a potential run.The Cubs have a great team and it would still be a big challenge to catch them if their lead was four games instead of seven, Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter told reporters in mid-July. Its not going to be easy -- but it does at least seem more realistic than it did a few weeks ago.That was then.Three-plus weeks later Chicago owns a 12-game lead on second-place St. Louis. The Cubs have gone 19-6 since a victory just before the All-Star break and now have won nine straight.The Cardinals (60-54) are 4-6 in their last 10 games after Wednesdays 3-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds, but lost first baseman Matt Adams to the disabled list before Thursdays game.The Cardinals come into the series four games behind Los Angeles for the top wild card spot and tied with Miami for the second.Every game for us now is important., said Jhonny Peralta on Wednesday. Today was a big win. Miami lost and we won, so we are good to go. Now we go out there and try to win another game.The Cubs became the first big league team to 70 wins with Tuesdays 5-1 victory over the Angels. They maintain baseballs best record and are on track for 102 wins.Chicago is -- as pitcher Jake Arrieta put it last week -- operating on all cylinders. Among the differences over the last 24 games entering Wednesday was better performances and consistency from Arrieta and other pitchers.Cubs pitchers had a collective 2.37 ERA in that span, including a 2.61 ERA from starters and a 1.76 ERA from relievers. In 24 games prior, the Cubs had a 5.17 ERA.Adams was replaced on the active roster by outfielder Randal Grichuk, who is promoted from Triple-A with a .216 batting average this season and a miserable 1-for-17 five-game stretch at Memphis.Not even a soap opera involving bench player Tommy La Stella and his refusal to report to Triple-A Iowa has distracted the Cubs.The left-handed hitting infielder was sent down to Iowa 12 days ago but was reported to be instead working out at his New Jersey home and Cubs brass put La Stella on the inactive list on Tuesday.Hes a 27-year-old kid and hes working through some stuff and were trying to give him time to work through those things, Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said this week. Weve had a lot of contact with him and well continue to do that. Danny Duffy Jersey . Each of Houstons starters scored in double figures as the Rockets improved to 2-0 against the Spurs this season, with both victories coming on the road. They also moved within 3 1/2 games of San Antonio (22-7) for the lead the Southwest Division. Cheap Royals Jerseys Authentic . Belfort (24-10) needed just 77 seconds to down Henderson in the headlining bout of Saturdays "UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs. Henderson" event at Goiania Arena in Goiania, Brazil. The fight served as a rematch of the pairs 2006 meeting, which Henderson won by decision. http://www.cheaproyalsjerseys.com/?tag=cheap-ian-kennedy-jersey . "Hes going to have hip surgery on Jan. 7, and hell be expected to rehabilitate for four to six months beyond that," Canucks general manager Mike Gillis said Friday in an interview. Paulo Orlando Jersey . Anthony Calvillo, through 20 CFL seasons, was frequently invincible and largely stoic in the heat of competition. But underneath the professional exterior he was, and is, compellingly human. Cheap MLB Jerseys Authentic . PETERSBURG, Fla. Cronulla are battling on the wrong side of history as they head into Saturdays NRL qualifying final against Canberra treading water.After 15 straight wins, Shane Flanagans Sharks were shaping as the fairytale story of the 2016 season, however their form has fallen away sharply since.After just one draw and one win from their last six, they head into the finals well and truly in a slump.According to Fox Sports Stats, no team has ever won just one of their final five matches and gone on to win the grand final.The 1982 Manly, 1966 Balmain and 1949 St George sides went close, making the grand final, but fell short.Retiring Cronulla hooker Michael Ennis insists the special qualities that saw the side register the equal-fifth-longest winning streak in competition history has not left them, but they need to regain that hunger.I think the side when we won the 15 games straight was a hungry footy side that really worked hard for one another and did the simple things really well and controlled the game on the back of that, Ennis said.I thought the last 60 minutes of the Roosters and the second half against Souths, we were that side again.ddddddddddddut I just think we were treading water a bit waiting for the finals and you dont have to take the foot off the pedal much to get beaten or to have a scrappy game.After being one of the leagues best attacking outfits this year, the Sharks attack has fallen away dramatically in the last four weeks - which has included losses to Melbourne, South Sydney and St George Illawarra and a win over Sydney Roosters.In that period they have scored the third least points (16.8 per game), made the sixth least line breaks (4.8 per game) and missed the fourth most tackles (31.3).Ennis said while it was boring as anything, it all stemmed from their failure to do the fundamentals such as hold onto the ball.We just didnt do things hard enough. We just didnt compete hard enough, we didnt have intent in those areas that were really working for us to get down the other end of the field and let blokes have opportunities, Ennis said. Jerseys Wholesale NFL Jerseys China Cheap Jerseys From China Nike NFL Jerseys China Cheap Jerseys Store Wholesale Jerseys China Jerseys NFL China ' ' '