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Cardinals Host Dodgers In NL Heavyweight Clash

Back to winning ways, the St. Louis Cardinals will look to hold off the Los Angeles Dodgers this week.

Back to winning ways, the St. Louis Cardinals will look to hold off the Los Angeles Dodgers this week.

The St. Louis Cardinals welcome the Los Angeles Dodgers to Busch Stadium this week for a four-game series that could have big implications in the race for the postseason. The series starts Monday with first pitch scheduled for shortly after 7:00 p.m. ET.

20130804_NL_CentralThe Cardinals (65-45, 32-17 home) closed out July with a seven-game skid, a losing streak that included four consecutive losses to divisional rivals the Pittsburgh Pirates. Those losses saw the Pirates once again take control of the NL Central, edging the Cardinals back into second place.

August has started much better for Mike Matheny’s club. The Redbirds avoided a five-game sweep by hammering the Pirates 13-0 last Thursday before taking two of three from the Cincinnati Reds this past weekend. Pittsburgh matched St. Louis’ weekend output and remain 1 ½ games ahead in the division standings.

With nine games left between the two clubs this season, there’s still plenty of time for the Cardinals to regain control of the division, but for now the club must look to avoid losses if it’s to keep pace. Unfortunately a four-game set with the NL West-leading Dodgers (61-49, 30-24 road) could herald those unwanted losses.

20130804_NL_WestDon Mattingly’s club is the hottest team in baseball right now. Winners of 31 of 38 games, the Dodgers have gone from dead last in the NL West on June 30 to first place, a position the club has held since July 22. On June 21, Los Angeles was 9 ½ games back of the division leaders. Now the club has a 5 ½ game advantage over the second-place Arizona Diamondbacks. Winning has become compulsory.

Monday’s series opener sees an unmissable pitching matchup.

St. Louis will send Adam Wainwright (13-6, 2.61 ERA) to the mound. Wainwright leads the club in wins, ERA, strikeouts, quality starts and innings pitched, and has been a huge part of the club’s success. Things have been a little tougher of late.

The right-hander has picked up just two wins in his last six starts. He allowed four runs on eight hits last time out (July 31), a game the Cardinals lost 5-4 to the Pirates. However, both of those wins came at home, where Wainwright is 5-4 this season.

Adam Wainwright will start Monday.

Adam Wainwright will start Monday.

Wainwright went 1-0 in two starts against the Dodgers last season. Monday will be his first outing against the West Coast club this season.

The Dodgers will counter with Zack Greinke (8-3, 3.43 ERA). After an erratic start to the season, the right-hander managed to record five straight wins in June/July, culminating with a two-hit complete game shutout against the Colorado Rockies on July 13. Greinke has gone 0-1 in three starts since that game. Last time out (July 30), he allowed two runs on five hits and failed to record a decision in what turned out to be a  3-2 win for the Dodgers over the New York Yankees.

Greinke last picked up a road win back on July 8 in Arizona. He is 3-2 on the road this season.  Monday night marks the first time the 29-year-old has faced the Cardinals this season. In April 2012, Greinke went 2-0 against the NL Central club, allowing just one run as he pitched for the Milwaukee Brewers. He, and the Dodgers, will hope this success carries over.

The Dodgers enter the game with some injury worries that could make the difference. Wonder rookie Yasiel Puig hurt his thumb in Saturday’s 3-0 win over the Chicago Cubs. He is currently listed as day-to-day, but Mattingly expects him to be ready for Monday’s game. Sunday’s 1-0 win over the Cubs saw Hanley Ramirez jar his shoulder. He too is listed as day-to-day as team physicians establish how serious the injury might be. The Dodgers are also without Matt Kemp, who is on the 15-day DL with an ankle injury.

St. Louis meanwhile is without catcher Yadier Molina (knee), currently on the 15-day DL.

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. St. Louis Cardinals odds for 8/5/13 are available now.

St. Louis (-152) opens as the favorite at home over the Dodgers (+142). The Dodgers will be looking to win their 15th straight road game on Monday, which would move them one game closer to the all-time record of 18. Continuing such an incredible run will be difficult though.

Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez both suffered injuries this weekend.

Injury struck Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez this weekend.

The Cardinals are 7-3 in their last 10 against the Dodgers, and 17-8 in their last 25 home games against the Los Angeles club, numbers bettors should certainly keep in mind. History certainly doesn’t favor the Southern Californian club. The Cardinals also took two of three from the Dodgers back in May.

St. Louis (32-17 home) has the third best home record in the National League, behind only the Atlanta Braves (38-15) and Pittsburgh (38-20). Meanwhile, the Dodgers (30-24 road) arrive in the Gateway City sporting the best road record in all of baseball.

The over/under opened at 7.

St. Louis (56-51-3) has favored the over this season, while Los Angeles (53-53-4) has split the over/under evenly. May’s three-game series between the clubs saw the total go over twice and under once.

The total has gone under in eight of the last nine Dodger games, and four of the St. Louis’ last five. However, the last five games at Busch Stadium have seen the total go over, while four of Los Angeles’ last six visits to the stadium have also seen the total go over.

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