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Cardinals look to turn things around vs. Dodgers

The St. Louis Cardinals must look to right the ship quickly as they are gradually falling further and further behind the National League Central front running Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pittsburgh now leads the division by three games. St. Louis now has a record of 66-47, but has lost 6 of its past 10 games overall.

Tonight the Cardinals end a four game series with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Cardinals lost the first game of the series with Los Angeles before defeating the Dodgers 5-1 in game two, but the Dodgers came back to rout the Cardinals in game three 13-4.

The Cardinals will end the series by sending Carlos Martinez to the mound. They called up Martinez from Triple-A Memphis for Thursday’s finale.

Jake Westbrook was originally scheduled as the starter on Thursday but was thrown into action on Wednesday, when Cardinals rookie starter Shelby Miller was hit in his elbow with a line drive after just two pitches.

Westbrook was certainly not impressive in his relief appearance for Miller. The Cardinals right-hander was tagged for 9 runs on 13 hits in just 4 2/3 innings of work.

Martinez is one of the team top prospects and has appeared in 10 games in relief for the Cardinals. At Memphis, Martinez is 4-2 as a starter with an ERA of 1.76. On May 25, Martinez pitched one inning of relief against Los Angeles.

The Dodgers will counter Martinez with their own rookie sensation Hyun-Jin Ryu. The southpaw is 10-3 on the season with an ERA of 3.15. Ryu gave up just two runs on Friday, in a 6-2 victory over the Cubs and is now 4-0 over his past seven starts. During that period, his ERA is 3.56, but more importantly, the Dodgers are 7-0.

The Cardinals will have to contend with a Dodgers offense that has outscored its 19 opponents 92-51 since the All Star break, going 16-3 in the process.

St. Louis will look to veteran Carlos Beltran for their firepower. Beltran has 13 hits in his last 27 at bats over seven games.

Yadier Molina is still on the disabled list for the Cardinals and his loss at the plate as the team’s leading hitter has cost them dearly. However, his loss behind the plate running the pitchers and knowing each one the way he does has hurt the Cardinals. There is still no timetable for his return to the Cardinals lineup.

Even though the Cardinals are in second place behind the Pirates, they lead in the race for the NL Wildcard, while division rivals the Cincinnati Reds are three games back and lead for the second wildcard spot in the league.

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