Thursday Service Plays

Thursday Service Plays

SPORTS ADVISORS

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Colorado (15-25) at Arizona (25-15)

The Rockies, who have struggled out of the gate after advancing to their first World Series last fall, trot out their one bright spot this season when right-hander Aaron Cook (6-1, 2.26 ERA) faces the Diamondbacks and their unbeaten ace Brandon Webb (8-0, 2.41) at Chase Field.

Arizona continued its dominance of the Rockies on Wednesday, holding on for a 4-3 victory after taking Monday’s opener 8-4. The DBacks are now 7-1 against Colorado this season, which is in sharp contrast to last season, when the Rockies won 10 of the final 12 series meetings, including a four-game sweep in the National League Championship Series.

The DBacks are on runs of 27-11 at home, 19-5 against the N.L. West and 7-2 on Thursdays.

The Rockies have now dropped four in a row overall and nine of their last 13. They’re in the midst of further slumps of 6-17 overall, 2-10 on the highway and 3-11 against the N.L. West, though they are 7-2 in their last nine games on Thursday.

Cook has reeled off six straight wins for the struggling Rockies, posting a 1.90 ERA during this stretch while going at least seven innings in five of those outings. He allowed one run on three hits in seven innings in Friday’s 4-2 victory at San Diego, moving to 4-1 with a 2.45 ERA on the highway this season.

Cook is 5-3 with a mediocre 5.09 ERA in 16 appearances (14 starts) against Arizona, but he has Colorado’s lone win over the DBacks this season, allowing three runs on eight hits in eight innings of a 13-5 road rout on April 13.

Webb kept his perfect record intact with last Thursday’s complete-game effort against Philadelphia, as he allowed three runs on six hits with no walks and four strikeouts in an 8-3 victory. Webb is 4-0 at home this year, but his ERA is a bit higher at 3.41. He is 10-7 with 3.69 ERA in 23 starts against the Rocks (2-0, 1.80 ERA this year), most recently allowing two runs on four hits in eight innings of an 8-2 Arizona home rout on April 11.

For Colorado, the under is on streaks of 6-2 overall, 8-1 on the road, 5-1 on Thursday and 5-1 against the N.L. West. Conversely, the trends all lean toward the “over” for Arizona, including 4-2 in the last six overall, 12-5-1 in the last 18 against the N.L. West and 5-3-2 in the last 10 at home. Finally, the total had gone high in four straight meetings between these clubs – all in Arizona, and all double-digit contests – before last night’s game stayed low.

ATS ADVANTAGE: ARIZONA and OVER


AMERICAN LEAGUE

Chicago (19-20) at Los Angeles (24-18)

The White Sox will have right-hander Javier Vazquez (4-3, 3.63 ERA) toeing the slab at Angel Stadium against fellow righty Jon Garland (4-3, 4.30) as these teams cap a four-game series.

Los Angeles outslugged Chicago for a 10-7 victory in Monday’s opener, then won a pitching duel with two runs in the eighth inning of a 2-0 victory Tuesday. On Wednesday night, though, the White Sox broke through with a 6-1 victory to halt a four-game slide. The White Sox still just 5-10 in their last 15 games.

This is the first series this season between these two teams. Chicago took last year’s season battle 5-4, including winning two of three games played at Los Angeles last May. The White Sox are now 11-4 in the last 15 clashes in Anaheim.

Vazquez, who will make his ninth start of the year, allowed four runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings Saturday as Chicago took an 8-4 victory at Seattle. That followed back-to-back one-run efforts for Vazquez, who yielded four hits in eight innings in a suspended game against Baltimore, then scattered eight hits in 7 2/3 innings but got no offensive support in a 1-0 loss at Toronto.

Vazquez, who is 2-2 with a 4.01 ERA on the road this season, is 0-1 with a 2.95 ERA in three career starts against Los Angeles, but he hasn’t pitched against the Angels since 2004 when he was with the Yankees.

Garland matched his longest outing of the year with a sterling start Friday at Tampa Bay, allowing no runs on four hits in eight innings, but neither his bullpen nor his offense could pick him up in a 2-0 loss as Rays rookie Evan Longoria belted a two-run homer off Justin Speier in the bottom of the ninth. Garland also went eight innings in the previous start, giving up one run on three hits in a 3-1 home win over Baltimore.

Garland, who is 2-2 with a bloated 6.04 ERA at home this year, spent his first eight years in the majors with the White Sox before being traded to the Angels this past offseason.

Chicago is mired in slumps of 3-9 overall on the road, 11-25 on the road against right-handed starters, 3-6 in roadies against winning teams, 6-16 against the American League West and 3-8 in Vazquez’s last 11 road starts against winning teams. However, Chicago is 4-1 in its last five on Thursdays, 6-1 in Vazquez’s last seven outings on four days’ rest, 9-3 in Vazquez’s last 12 starts overall.

The Angels are on positive runs of 4-1 at Anaheim Stadium, 5-2 against the A.L. Central, 4-1 on Thursday, 4-2 against losing teams and 62-30 in their last 92 home games against right-handed starters.

The over is 6-1 in Vazquez’s last seven starts overall, 8-0 in his last eight when pitching on four days’ rest and 5-1 in his last six on the road. Conversely, the under is 4-1 in Garland’s last five outings.

For Chicago, the under is on streaks of 12-4 overall, 11-3 on the road and 10-4 against the A.L. West. Meanwhile, L.A. carries under trends of 10-4-1 overall, 8-2-1 against the A.L. Central and 7-1-1 against losing teams. Finally, the under is 12-4 in the last 16 Angels-White Sox clashes, including 7-2 in the last nine in Anaheim.

ATS ADVANTAGE: LOS ANGELES and UNDER


NBA PLAYOFFS

WESTERN CONFERENCE

(2) New Orleans (7-3, 6-4 ATS) at (3) San Antonio (6-4, 4-5-1 ATS)

The defending NBA champion Spurs, who find themselves at elimination’s doorstep after another blowout road loss in Game 5, hope to even things up again at the AT&T Center against the Hornets, who can claim a spot in the Western Conference finals with an upset victory tonight.

On Tuesday night, New Orleans trailed by three at halftime, then outscored San Antonio 28-11 in the third quarter and coasted to a 101-79 victory as a 4½-point home chalk. David West went off for 38 points and 14 rebounds for the Hornets, who bounced back from double-digit losses in Games 3 and 4 in San Antonio. New Orleans is just 1-3 SU and ATS on the highway in the playoffs, with the winner cashing in each contest.

San Antonio, is now just 2-4-1 ATS in its last seven games dating to the first-round series win over Phoenix. However, the Spurs are 5-0 SU (3-1-1 ATS) at home in the playoffs.

New Orleans leads the season series with San Antonio 5-4 SU and ATS, and although the visitor claimed the first two battles in the regular season, the home team is now on a 7-0 SU and ATS run. Also, eight of the nine meetings this season have been double-digit blowouts, with the average margin of victory this season being 17.7 points per game.

In addition, in this rivalry, the straight-up winner has taken the cash in all nine clashes this season and is 12-2 ATS in the last 14 head-to-head contests. Finally, the favorite is 12-4 ATS in the last 16 meetings, including 5-0 ATS in this playoff series.

The Hornets are on ATS streaks of 44-21-1 overall, 4-1 on one day of rest, 13-6 against the Western Conference and 23-11 after a double-digit victory. On the negative side, though, New Orleans suffered double-digit losses on the road in Games 3 and 4 of this series and is 1-4 ATS in its last five on the highway and a lowly 1-10 ATS in its last 11 Thursday contests.

The Spurs have little to brag about at the betting window, as they are mired in ATS funks of 7-15-1 against Southwest Division rivals, 3-7 on Thursday, 3-8-1 after a SU loss and 3-9-1 after allowing more than 100 points. But San Antonio is 4-1-1 ATS in its last six at home, winning by 11 and 20 points respectively in Games 3 and 4 of this playoff series.

The over was 2-0-1 in the first three games of this series, but the last two contests have stayed low, bucking a bevy of “over” trends for both teams. The over for New Orleans is still on streaks of 8-2-1 in conference semifinal games, 6-1 on Thursday, 4-1 after scoring 100 or more points, 6-2 when catching five to 10½ points on the road and 8-3 as a road ‘dog of any price. The under, though, is 6-1 in the Hornets’ last seven games played on one day of rest and 5-1-1 in their last seven as a playoff underdog.

For San Antonio, the over is on sprees of 8-3-1 overall, 5-1 as a chalk, 4-1 as a home chalk, 5-1 after a non-cover, 6-2 when laying five to 10½ points at home, 7-2 at home against teams with a winning road record and 13-6-1 in conference semifinal contests. On the flip side, the under is 17-8-1 in the Spurs’ last 26 against the Southwest Division and 38-18 in their last 56 after a SU loss.

Finally, the over is 8-3 in the last 11 head-to-head meetings in San Antonio.

ATS ADVANTAGE: SAN ANTONIO and OVER

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LT Profits

Oakland Athletics +135

The Cleveland Indians have taken the first two games of this series, but we look for the Oakland Athletics to avoid the sweep in this battle of young southpaws.

Now, we are aware that Cleveland’s Aaron Laffey has not allowed an earned run in his last two starts, covering 14 innings, and that the Indians starting pitchers have now tossed an unbelievable 43.1 consecutive scoreless innings. However, all of that is built in to this inflated line, and as great as Laffey has been, this line gives too much respect to someone that has made just three starts this season.

Besides, when Oakland’s Greg Smith allowed four runs at Texas in his last start, it snapped an impressive streak of six consecutive starts by Smith of allowing three earned runs or less to start the season. He is facing a Cleveland lineup here that is batting a pathetic .203 over the last 10 games, and Oakland has the far superior bullpen between these two teams, in fact leading the American League with a bullpen ERA of 2.95.

If the A’s could scratch out some runs vs. Laffey here, and that incredible scoreless streak by Cleveland starters has to end eventually, we like our chances with Smith and the Oakland pen at a nice price.

Pick: Athletics +135


Toronto Blue Jays -120

Dustin McGowan of the Toronto Blue Jays is coming off of his worst start of the season vs. a Cleveland Indians team that he has always struggled with, but he should get back on track vs. the Minnesota Twins here this afternoon.

McGowan was torched for nine earned runs in just 3.2 innings by Cleveland, but he had allowed three runs or less in six of his first seven starts and he allowed just four earned runs in his other outing, so we will grant him a Mulligan for that Indians debacle. McGowan was brilliant in his only start vs. the Twins last season, allowing just four hits in 7.1 scoreless innings, so we see no reason why had can’t return to his dominant form in this spot. He also has the support of a Toronto bullpen that ranks fifth in baseball with a 3.26 ERA.

The Twins counter with rookie southpaw Glen Perkins, who was hardly awe-inspiring in his Major League debut. Sure, he somehow escaped with only allowing three earned runs in six innings, but he did allow nine hits, and he is now facing a Toronto offense that may be awakening from a season long slump, as the Blue Jays have scored 11 runs in the first two games of this series.

Toronto has now won five straight head-to-head meetings with Minnesota, and we look for the Jays to finish off the three-game road sweep today.

Pick: Blue Jays -120

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Matt Fargo

Colorado Rockies vs. Arizona D-Backs
Play: Colorado Rockies     

Taking Colorado here does go against one certain factor but this price is way too solid to pass up. The Rockies have dropped four straight games and have lost seven of the eight meetings this season but if there is a game that they can take, this is the one. Note that the one victory that Colorado has in this series this year was with Aaron Cook on the hill. Despite not scoring many runs of late, the potential is there for the Rockies as they have hit a solid .296 over their last 10 games.

The Diamondbacks have won two straight games but I don’t think they are quite out of the woods yet. This little streak has come on the heels of a 2-6 run in which the offense really slowed down. As a matter of fact, the Diamondbacks have scored four runs or fewer in seven of their last 10 games and even getting to that number tonight will be a challenge. Arizona is hitting just .261 over its last 10 games including .240 against right-handed pitching.

Cook is catching a great number here and he will be looking to win his seventh straight start. After a rough performance in St. Louis to start the season, Cook has strung together seven straight quality outings, posting a 1.81 ERA over that span with the Rockies going 7-0 in those games. Considering Colorado has gone 7-20 in the other 27 games during this stretch shows exactly how good Cook has been. He is 3-1 with a 1.85 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in five nighttime starts.

There is not much bad to say about Brandon Webb as he is having a spectacular season. The early success is no surprise as he started the 2005 season 6-0 and opened the 2006 campaign with franchise-best 8-0 mark. Going 9-0 in his first nine starts will be a challenge against a team that has always given him fits. He has allowed four runs or more in six of his last nine starts against the Rockies, posting a 4.80 ERA. He dominated twice this year but a winless and struggling Jeff Francis was the opposing pitcher both times. Play Colorado Rockies 1.5 Units

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James Patrick Sports

Pirates vs. Cardinals

Joel Piniero has never lost to the Bucs and he has a 2.03 ERA at home to date this season. Our selection for Thursday in Major League action is St. Louis Cardinals.

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Marc Lawrence

Play On: Florida w/ Miller over Cincinnati w/Belisle

Note: When first place Florida sends Andrew Miller up against the Reds in Cincinnati's Matt Belisle it will be off Miller's best back-to-back starting efforts in the majors, gong 2-0 with a 1.39 ERA. With Belisle struggling at 2-13 in his last fifteen home starts, we'll back the Marlins here tonight.

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Jimmy The Moose

Game: Pittsburgh Pirates at St Louis Cardinals
Prediction: St Louis Cardinals

Reason: The Pirates have been playing a lot better of late but they are facing a team they always struggle against. The Pirates are 5-16 in their last 21 games vs. NL Central opponents. Pittsburgh is 20-46 in their last 66 games as a road dog. The Cardinals are 26-12 in their last 38 games as a home favorite. The Cardinals are 42-18 in the last 60 meetings between the clubs. Pittsburgh is 9-22 in their last 31 trips to St. Louis. Play on the Cardinals -.

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Las Vegas Sports Pics

Philadelphia - 125* over Atlanta (action)
Atlanta is an MLB worst 5-14 on the road. Philadelphia is 10-3 in 13 Kendrick career home starts including 1-0 versus Atlanta. Phillies are 8-4 last 12 meetings.
   
Houston (Backe) + 110* over (at) San Francisco (Cain)
San Francisco is 2-6 last eight games and 7-14 last 21 Cain home starts. Houston is 9-1 last ten games including 4-0 on the current West coast road trip.

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Stephen Nover

New York Yankees @ Tampa Bay Rays
PICK: Under

REASON FOR PICK: Expect a strong performance from Tampa Bay southpaw Scott Kazmir. He should be pumped after inking a three-year contract extension for $28.5 million. He was a Yankee killer last season and he's looked good since returning from a strained left elbow.

Kazmir, who led the AL in strikeouts last season, has made three starts this season with the last coming on Saturday versus the Angels. He held them scoreless in six innings at home, allowing three hits while striking out six and walking three.

The Yankees' offense is feeling the loss of Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada. New York has scored four runs in its last three games. Kazmir held the Yankees to just two earned runs during his last three starts against them last year in 18 2/3 innings. During those three starts, he allowed New York just 12 hits while having a 22-to-six strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Yankee starter Ian Kennedy is the wildcard to this handicap to the 'under.' It appears a trip to Triple-A may have gotten him on track as he gave up no runs on two hits in 8 1/3 innings with no walks and eight strikeouts while back in the minors.

The Rays haven't exactly been tearing the cover off the ball. They've been held to two or less runs in five of their last eight games.

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Big Al McMordie

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. St Louis Cardinals     
Play: Money Line: -120     

At 1:15pm, our complimentary selection is on the St. Louis Cardinals over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Many people are probably surprised that the Pirates are currently flirting with .500 at 19-21 after roughly a quarter of the season. Of course, it took a 7-2 run for the Pirates to get to this point, taking six straight games from the Giants and Braves from May 6 to May 12. Things figure to get significantly tougher for Pittsburgh against this Cardinal team that has dominated them over the last 60 head-to-head meetings as the Cards are 42-18 during this time. Righthander Ian Snell goes to the mound tonight against St. Louis and the very surprising righthander Joel Pineiro. Snell has pitched well at times, but has to improve on his strikeouts to walks ratio (30 Ks and 21 BBs in just under 48 innings) in order to be a top-flight starter in the league. Pineiro had one of his best starts of the season at the end of April against Pittsburgh, going seven strong innings while giving up only one earned run and striking out six Pirates. Pineiro's best start of the year came at home against the high-powered Reds offense when he shut them down over seven strong innings, yielding only a single hit. Pittsburgh is 9-22 in the last 31 meetings in St. Louis. Take the Cards.

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JEFFERSONSPORTS

MLB EARLY RELEASES FOR THURS

TAMPA BAY-142
ST. LOUIS-120
MILWAUKEE-128

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Dave Cokin

PIT Pirates and STL Cardinals
Take PIT Pirates

Ian Snell has yet to put it together for the Pirates. Shaky command and a fairly substantial drop in his K/IP ratio are at the root of his problems. Snell was wild again in his last start, but at least the strikeouts were up and what he did get in the strike zone proved very difficult to hit. Maybe it's a minor buy signal for the talented Pirates righty. The Cardinals counter with Joel Pineiro, who's been really fortunate. Pineiro's numbers belie the fact he's not at all dominating, and eventually there's going to be a substantial regression. I think Snell and the Bucs are worth a shot at a decent price today."

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Jim Feist

CHI White Sox and LA Angels
Take Over

Chicago's offense has come alive on this long road trip, averaging just under 6 runs. That led to 3 straight games going over the total. But the pitching has slipped a bit, as well, giving up 20 runs in those three games. The team is 6-1 over the total in the 7 starts by starter Javier Vazquez. The Angels are happy to be home after their long road trip, and the bats came alive in a 10-7 win in the opener against these White Sox. This is a low total for an AL game, play the White Sox/Angels over the total

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GATOR REPORT

MLB 70% Super Situations  (MLB Record 10-3 +670 units)

MLB (10-3 +670) Thursday:   Play Under MLB (NL) teams where the total is 10 or higher with a starting pitcher whose ERA is 6.70 or worse on the season, where team's hitters strike out 6 or less times per game on the year.52-17 Under since 1997 (75.4%)

PLAY: Florida / Cincinnati UNDER 10

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JEFF BENTON

I used Toronto as my Best Bet on Wednesday, and the Jays made us sweat a bit before holding on for a 6-5 win. Thevve now taken the first two games of this series, improving to 5-0 in their last five against the Twins. That includes a 7-0 shutout win last July, a game in which Dustin McGowan tossed 7 1/3 brilliant innings, yielding just four hits and three walks with five strikeouts. Well, McGowan is on the hill in this contest, and even though hes coming off the worst start of his career a 12-0 loss at Cleveland, as he gave up nine runs in 3 2/3 innings I have no qualms about backing him here.

Why Because prior to that blowout in Cleveland, he had shut down the Red Sox and White Sox in two starts, giving up a combined one run on eight hits in 14 2/3 innings with just one walk and 11 strikeouts! The point: The kids got great stuff; he just had one bad night on Saturday, and I expect a big bounce-back effort today.

As for the Twins, they?re handing the ball to lefty Glen Perkins, who is making just his second career big-league start. His first came Saturday at home against the Red Sox, and while he wasnt terrible, he wasnt unhittable either, as he gave up three runs and nine hits in six innings of a 5-2 loss. And even though the Jays have struggled against southpaws this season, I still think they can get to this kid for three or four runs. And if Im right about a bounce-back from McGowan, thats all well need. Play Toronto as it goes for its fourth straight victory.

4* BLUE JAYS

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TONY WESTON

Despite last nights loss, the Angels are still 2-1 against the White Sox in their three meetings this season. And despite being 2-5 their last seven games, the Angels are 12-9 so far this season at home, including those two wins against the Sox. The Halos are also 6-3 at home their last nine games at home and are 4-1 their last five in Anaheim.

Chicago comes into this game 3-9 its last 12 games on the road, including a 1-3 mark its last four.

The Angels will hand the White Sox another road loss. Take Anaheim at home tonight.

2* ANGELS

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MATT RIVERS

For Thursday take the scrappy Nats at Shea

Sure the Mets are the clear superior team today but Manny Acta's boys are a squad that has enough to win this game and especially so against an extremely sketchy Mike Pelfrey.

Jason Bergmann is an underated hurler who has had some success in the division. The righty completely shut down the Braves a few times last season and really does have some pretty good stuff. I've seen this first hand and was semi shocked as I didn't know much about him before.

Mike Pelfrey was supposed to be a young phenom but the guy has been fairly awful in his young big league career. Every now and then you see glimpses but more times than not he comes up empty with the last case in point being against the Reds in that last start.
Beltran, Wright, Reyes and the rest of the Mets still may be the most talented team in the National league but they have not exactly been lighting it up and with a shaky Pelfrey on the hill have a chance for sure to lose this game.

Washington will compete and with Zimmerman, Johnson, Lopez, Belliard and other professional hitters should get to Pelfrey and be in this thing until the end.

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John Fina

Selection: San Francisco Giants -140

Today the Houston Astros will be on the road as they take on the San Francisco Giants. We will side with the San Francisco Giants! One reason why we are siding with the San Francisco Giants is because they will be sending to the mound the much better starting pitcher. This says it all... The Houston Astros Starting Pitcher (Chris Sampson) has a 6.27 ERA this season, while San Francisco Giants Starting Pitcher (Tim Lincecum) has a 1.61 ERA this season. As you can see, the San Francisco Giants will be sending to the mound the much better starting pitcher. In addition, the San Francisco Giants have proven success against the Houston Astros. In fact, the San Francisco Giants are 41-18 in their last 59 meetings against the Houston Astros. We see the San Francisco Giants getting another win today! Take the San Francisco Giants

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Karl Garrett

Elimination game tonight in San Antonio, and the G-Man is going OVER the total in this Hornets-Spurs game.

Yes, Game Five stayed low, but the G-Man is looking at some numbers that support a high-scoring game in this one, as 8 of the last 11 series meetings in San Antone between the teams have eclipsed the total.

New Orleans is also on an 8-3 OVER run their last 11 as a road dog, while the Spurs are on an 8-3-1 OVER clip overall in their last 12 games played at the AT&T Center.

Every one of the five previous games have seen the winner score 100 or more points, and there is no reason to believe this game won't see a similar outcome.

The G-Man is playing this sixth game OVER the posted price.

3* OVER

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Bobby Maxwell

Cincinnati has won three in a row over what was the hottest team in baseball. The Reds have beaten the Marlins the first three of this series and got Wednesday's game in dramatic fashion.

Cincy blew a six-run lead in the bottom of the ninth and got forced into extra innings. Then the Reds came out and got a run in the bottom of the tenth to get the 7-6 win.
Matt Belisle (1-3, 7.45 ERA) goes today for Cincinnati and he's looking for better results than his last start on Saturday when he gave up five earned runs on seven hits in five innings of a 12-6 loss in New York.

In his first year with the Marlins, Andrew Miller (3-2, 6.41) is on the hill today and he's gotten major support from his offense in the last two starts, getting 11 runs in Washington and 10 runs at home against the Padres. He's got a 5.23 ERA on the road this season and a 7.09 ERA under the lights.

We're going to play the Reds in this one to keep the momentum going after Wednesday's wild win. Go ahead and lay the small chalk with Cincy.

3* CINCINNATI

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Sports Gambling Hotline

Afternoon baseball from Busch, and we will back the Cardinals as the small home field favorite.

We really like the consistency that Joel Pineiro has been showing since joining the rotation. Pineiro's last start saw just 2 runs score in 6 innings of work in a no-decison at Milwaukee. At home, Pineiro has gone 1-1 with an ERA just over 2.

On the flip side, Ian Snell has done his best mound work this year at home. On the road, Snell sports an over 5 ERA.

Earlier this year, Pineiro bested the Bucs by working 7 innings of 1 run ball, while Snell's start in that April series against the Redbirds saw 4 runs score over 6 frames in a no-decision.

St. Louis was able to snap a 3-game skid with the 5-1 win last night, as they are now 11-6 at home since '06 versus the Pirates.

Play on the Redbirds.

3* ST. LOUIS

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