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Reds in Slump

The St. Louis Cardinals have struggled at home this season, but now they have a chance at their first series victory at Busch Stadium.

The Cardinals look to build on just their second home victory as they wrap up a three-game set with the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday.

St. Louis (9-11) became the first World Series champion to start the following season 1-7 at home before beating the Reds 5-2 on Wednesday.

Oddsmakers have made Cincinnati -115 point spread favorites (MLB Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 9 total runs (View MLB Sports Books). Our public betting information shows that 53% of bets for this game have been placed on Cincinnati -115 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Even with the win, St. Louis has been outscored 46-25 at Busch, with 10 of those runs coming in its other victory there.

Braden Looper and three relievers combined on a five-hitter Wednesday, and Albert Pujols hit a two-run, tiebreaking double in the eighth. Pujols, like most of the Cardinals' hitters, has struggled in the first month of the season and is hitting just .234 (18-for-77).

"Obviously it doesn't matter how I'm swinging or what my batting average looks like, when it comes to that situation I'm a different person," said Pujols, who does have five homers and 14 RBIs. "I know sooner or later I'm going to get a big opportunity."

The Cardinals, who rank among the worst teams in baseball with just 70 runs, manged just seven hits but scored first for only the fifth time in 20 games. Chris Duncan went 2-for-3 with a walk, improving to .448 (13-for-29) at home.

The Reds (10-11), who were coming off a 10-3 series-opening win, lost for the fifth time in seven games. Josh Hamilton hit his sixth homer and drove in his 12th run. He leads major league rookies in home runs and NL rookies in RBIs.

Cincinnati has scored three or fewer runs in four of its last five games. St. Louis starter Randy Keisler (0-0, 4.09 ERA) will look to hold the Reds in check again in the series finale.

Keisler allowed four runs in five innings of the Cardinals' 12-inning, 6-5 loss to San Francisco on April 18. The start was his second in place of ace Chris Carpenter, who is on the disabled list with a right elbow injury.

Keisler made 24 appearances, including four starts, for the Reds in 2005, going 2-1 with a 6.27 ERA. He has never faced his former team.

The Reds will counter with Kyle Lohse (1-0, 1.91), who gave up one unearned run in seven innings in the Reds' 2-1, 10-inning victory over Philadelphia on Friday. Lohse, who struck out a career-high 12 batters in eight innings of a 1-0 win over the Chicago Cubs in his previous start on April 15, has not allowed an earned run in his last 18 innings and has struck out 23 batters while walking just three.

"He's showing the type of things we thought he was capable of," general manager Wayne Krivsky told the Reds' official Web site. "He's been aggressive with his pitches, working ahead of hitters and changing speeds. He's doing things (that) can make him a winning Major League pitcher."

Lohse is 0-1 with a 4.09 ERA in two career starts against the Cardinals, both in St. Louis. He did pitch well against them on Aug. 17, though, limiting the Cardinals to one run in seven innings without receiving a decision.

by: Michael Cash - thespread.com – Email Us

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