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Cardinals, D’backs Begin 4-Game Series

St. Louis' Yadier Molina and Mike Matheny get heated in Sunday night's loss to San Francisco.

St. Louis’ Yadier Molina and Mike Matheny get heated in Sunday night’s loss to San Francisco.

Division leaders will meet in the Gateway City Monday night as the St. Louis Cardinals welcome the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The NL Central-leading Cardinals will look to make up for a pair of losses in Arizona at the start of the season, while the NL West-leading Diamondbacks will look to extend its lead over the defending World Series champions.

First pitch is scheduled for 8:15 pm ET at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Miss.

Game Preview

NL Central-leading St. Louis (37-19, 17-10 home) currently sports the best record in baseball. Mike Matheny’s side has combined solid pitching with some big bats to take control of what currently stands as the division in the Major League Baseball.

The Cardinals enter Monday’s game just 2 1/2 games ahead of the surprising Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cincinnati Reds. Both of those sides face tough series this week, taking on the Atlanta Braves and Colorado Rockies respectively.

The Cardinals are smarting after a tough loss to the San Francisco Giants on Sunday.

The Giants scored a 4-2 win over their 2012 NLCS opponents, snapping a seven-game skid in the process.

Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina and manager Mike Matheny were ejected in the third inning after Molina threw his helmet to the ground after being called out on a bang bang play at first. From there, the side failed to get back into the game.

Prior to the loss, St. Louis had recorded nine wins in 11 games, including four of five at Busch Stadium.

Arizona (32-24, 16-12 road) might also be disappointed by St. Louis’ loss on Sunday. The Giants’ skid had seen the Diamondbacks overtake the defending champs in the NL West standings. Going into play on Monday, Kirk Gibson’s side leads the Giants by 2 1/2 games.

An 8-4 win on Sunday saw Arizona take two from three against the Chicago Cubs this weekend, marking a third straight series win and fourth in five sets. The Diamondbacks have won two straight games and five of the last seven, including two straight on the road. However, the Phoenix-based team has struggled on the road of late, losing five of six before two wins this weekend in the Windy City.

The Cardinals and Diamondbacks met in Phoenix to open the season. The Diamondbacks took two wins from the three-game set, eclipsing the number of wins the team scored against the Cardinals in all of 2012 as it went 1-5.

Monday night’s game will be the first of four to be played in the Gateway City this week. These will be the last games between the sides this season, barring a showdown in the postseason.

St. Louis will lean on David Freese for some offensive output. Freese enters the game having safely hit in 12 straight games, matching a career high. He’s batting .357 during that stretch, with seven runs scored and 13 RBIs.

Meanwhile, Arizona’s Matt Carpenter is currently enjoying an 11-game hit streak in which he’s averaging .391. He’s tallied 10 runs scored and five RBIs in the process, as well as seven multi-hit games.

Both will look to continue their current hot streaks when play commences tonight.

Trevor Cahill will take to the mound for the Diamondbacks.

Trevor Cahill will take to the mound for the Diamondbacks.

Starting Pitchers

Lance Lynn (7-1, 2.91 ERA) will start for the Cardinals on Monday night. The right-hander pitched seven innings in his last appearance (May 29), giving up two runs on eight hits against the Kansas City Royals. The Cardinals won that game but Lynn was left with a No Decision, his second in the last three games.

In his career, Lynn has recorded a 1-0 record against the Diamondbacks, with one No Decision and one Hold. Earlier this season (Apr. 3), he recorded a No Decision in Arizona, giving up four runs on six hits while striking out three.

Trevor Cahill (3-5, 2.88 ERA) will pitch for the Diamondbacks in this series opener. Also a right-hander, Cahill has very similar numbers to Lynn across the board, but has had less help from his teammates.

In his last appearance (May 27), Cahill recorded a No Decision against the Texas Rangers, as the Diamondbacks went on to win the game 5-4. In eight innings, Cahill gave up four runs on seven hits, while fanning four batters.

Cahill was the starter on April 2 as the Diamondbacks fell to the Cardinals. In 5 2/3 innings that day he allowed three runs on five hits, but struck out seven. He is 0-1 with two No Decisions in his career against St. Louis.

Lance Lynn will look to improve to 8-1 on Monday night.

Lance Lynn will look to improve to 8-1 on Monday night.

Betting Lines

Arizona Diamondbacks vs. St. Louis Cardinals odds for 6/3/13 are available now.

Playing at home, St. Louis (-165) opens as the favorite over Arizona (+155) on the moneyline.

The Diamondbacks were favorites when the two clubs met in April’s season-opening series, and took two wins from the three-game set. The Cardinals scored one upset win.

The total stands at 7 1/2. St. Louis (27-26-3) has marginally favored the over so far this season while Arizona (22-32-2) has seen the total go under more often than not.

The total went under in two of three of the meetings between these sides earlier this season.

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