Cards Making Run

Success on a just-completed homestand put the St. Louis Cardinals in position to make a run at the two top teams in the weak NL Central.

The Cardinals will have their chance when they begin a seven-game road trip, starting Tuesday in the opener of a three-game set against the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers.

St. Louis (55-60) routed the Los Angeles Dodgers 12-2 on Sunday to finish a 5-2 homestand. Though still below .500, the third-place Cardinals are 5 1/2 games behind Milwaukee and four back of the second-place Chicago Cubs, who will host St. Louis for four games starting Friday.

"We have a chance to make up for a lot of the bad baseball we've played earlier this season and set ourselves up for a very interesting final six weeks of the season,'' Cardinals catcher Gary Bennett said. "We're definitely looking forward to it.''

Milwaukee (62-56), meanwhile, is clinging to a 1 1/2-game lead over the Cubs after concluding a 2-4 road trip with a 6-4 loss at Houston on Sunday.

Although the Brewers have struggled to a 23-36 record on the road, they are an NL-best 39-20 at Miller Park, where they swept a three-game set with the Cardinals from April 30-May 2. Milwaukee is 5-4 overall this season against St. Louis, which at 25-33 has played almost as poorly as the Brewers on the road.

St. Louis took three of four from the Brewers at Busch Stadium from the Brewers from July 27-29 in the most recent series between the teams.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Milwaukee -131 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 9.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 52% of bets for this game have been placed on Milwaukee -131 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

On Sunday, six St. Louis players had at least two hits as the Cardinals posted a season-high 18 against the Dodgers. Rick Ankiel went 1-for-4, and the pitcher-turned-outfielder is batting .375 (6-for-16) with three homers and six RBIs since being called up from Triple-A Memphis on Thursday.

Albert Pujols, who went 2-for-4 Sunday, shouldn't mind facing Milwaukee starter Chris Capuano. The All-Star first baseman is batting .560 (14-for-25) with three homers and 10 RBIs lifetime against the left-hander.

Capuano (5-9, 4.96 ERA) will again try for his first win since beating Washington 3-0 on May 7. He allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings of an 11-4 loss at Colorado last Tuesday to fall to 0-9 with a 6.33 ERA in his last 14 starts.

"I'm tired of the streak,'' Capuano said. "It's not like I go out and try not to win over 14 starts. It was the same old story."

Capuano is 4-4 with a 5.20 ERA in 11 career starts against Cardinals, including 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA in two this season.

Geoff Jenkins hit a pair of solo homers and J.J. Hardy hit his 20th home run Sunday for the Brewers, who failed to sweep the Astros.

Hardy, who is batting .381 (8-for-21) with two homers in his last five games, is hitting .375 (12-for-32) against St. Louis this season.

Cardinals starter Kip Wells (5-13, 3.56) will try to post consecutive winning decisions for the first time in more than a year.

Wells, who last won two straight decisions on July 28 and Aug. 2, 2006, didn't allow an earned run while giving up six hits in seven innings of a 2-1 victory over San Diego on Wednesday.

"That's the way he's been pitching. He's given us a bunch of quality starts," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.

The right-hander is 6-8 with a 4.49 ERA versus St. Louis in 20 starts lifetime, but 0-2 with a 7.50 ERA in three outings this season.

by: Michael Cash - thespread.com – Email Us

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