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Pittsburgh at St. Louis

Venue: Busch Stadium
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A disappointing stretch has knocked the St. Louis Cardinals out of first place in the NL Central, but they appear to have a good chance at turning things around with a homestand against two of the NL's worst teams.

They also seem to have the right man on the mound to open that homestand.

Chris Carpenter looks to win his 11th straight decision over the Pittsburgh Pirates when he takes the ball for the Cardinals on Friday night.

St. Louis (56-46) owned a 1 1/2-game division lead July 21, but has since lost five of seven to drop one-half game behind first-place Cincinnati. The Cardinals have been shut out three times during their slump, including a 4-0 loss to the Mets on Thursday in which they managed four hits against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.

The heart of the St. Louis lineup - sluggers Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday - has contributed to the slump. The three-time NL MVP is batting .133 in the last seven games, while Holliday is batting .219.

Pujols figures to fare better in home series against last-place Pittsburgh and fifth-place Houston. He hit .550 with two homers and in six home games versus the Pirates last season, and is batting .393 with eight home runs and 21 RBIs in 30 games against them since the new Busch Stadium opened.

Carpenter (11-3, 3.09 ERA) has enjoyed similar success, posting a 1.23 ERA while winning all three of his starts against the Pirates at the new Busch. However, it hasn't really mattered where the right-hander has faced them.

Carpenter is 11-1 with a 2.29 lifetime ERA versus Pittsburgh, his most victories over any opponent. Since suffering his lone loss to the Pirates on June 29, 2004, Carpenter is 10-0 with a 2.01 ERA in 12 starts - all Cardinals victories.

The three-time All-Star allowed two runs while striking out eight in seven innings against Pittsburgh on May 7, though he didn't get a decision in the Cardinals' 4-3 win.

Against the Cubs on Sunday, Carpenter gave up three runs and nine hits in seven innings of a 4-3, 11-inning victory.

The Pirates (36-65) had a chance to notch their first road sweep of the season Thursday, but lost 9-3 to Colorado.

Andrew McCutchen sat out due to a sore right shoulder after going 4 for 8 with two doubles and two runs in the first two games at Coors Field. The center fielder, listed as day to day, was 6 for 10 with four doubles against the Cardinals in May.

Probable Pittsburgh starter Jeff Karstens (2-6, 4.72) had his best outing of the season against the Cardinals on May 8, allowing three hits in six innings of a 2-0 win. He hasn't had much luck lately, though.

Karstens has lost his last three outings and has one victory in 10 starts since rejoining Pittsburgh's rotation at the beginning of June following a stint in the bullpen. The right-hander gave up four runs in six innings of a 9-2 home defeat to San Diego on Saturday.

"I feel like I'm so close to getting over that hump," Karstens told the Pirates' official website. "There's a few things that haven't really gone my way, but it's just part of baseball."

This is the first series between these NL Central rivals since the May set, when the Cardinals took two of three in Pittsburgh.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Probable Starters

Jeff Karstens, RHP
2010 stats
89.2 Innings Pitched 148.2
2-6 Wins-Losses 11-3
4.72 Earned Run Average 3.09
24 Walks 40
52 Strikeouts 122
85 Pitches Per Start 0.0
Career vs. opponent
12.0 Innings Pitched 102.1
1-1 Wins-Losses 11-1
2.25 Earned Run Average 2.29

Chris Carpenter, RHP
Standings
TeamStandingsWLPct.GBL 10Strk
Pittsburgh2nd NL Central5447.5352 ½ 7-3 W 2
St. Louis2nd NL Central5447.5352 ½ 5-5 L 3
BATTER VS. PITCHER (Career)
vs Chris Carpenter
PlayerABHHRBBSOAVG
Milledge73001.429
Young52001.400
McCutchen72000.286
Jones72101.286
LaRoche61011.167
 
BATTER VS. PITCHER (Career)
vs Jeff Karstens
PlayerABHHRBBSOAVG
Greene220001.000
Boggs21001.500
Rasmus62102.333
Schumaker62000.333
Ludwick31000.333
 

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Game Odds
AwayLineHomeLine
Pittsburgh 240 St. Louis -280
Injuries
Pittsburgh
PlayerInjury
P. AlvarezKnee
C. BarmesGroin
G. ColeLat
S. MarteHead
St. Louis
PlayerInjury
J. GarciaShoulder
Y. MolinaThumb
M. WachaShoulder
 
Series Game Log
DateatResult/TimeWinnerLoser
Apr 11STLCHC 6-3Grimm Rosenthal 
Apr 12STLSTL 10-4Wainwright Villanueva 
Apr 13STLSTL 6-4Wacha Jackson 
May 2CHCCHC 6-5Wood Wainwright 
May 3CHCCHC 3-0Schlitter Wacha 
May 4CHCSTL 5-4Siegrist Rondon 
May 12STLCHC 17-5Wood Lyons 
May 13STLSTL 4-3Maness Grimm 
May 14STLPPD   
May 15STLSTL 5-3Wacha Hammel 
Jul 25CHC 4:05 PM EDT  
Jul 26CHC 4:05 PM EDT  
Jul 27CHC 2:20 PM EDT  
Aug 29STL 8:15 PM EDT  
Aug 30STL 2:15 PM EDT  
Aug 30STL 8:15 PM EDT  
Aug 31STL 2:15 PM EDT  
Sep 22CHC 8:05 PM EDT  
Sep 23CHC 8:05 PM EDT  
Sep 24CHC 8:05 PM EDT