Public Loves Cards
Solid starting pitching has helped the St. Louis Cardinals get off to a surprisingly strong start. Brandon Looper has been a big reason for that success.
The veteran right-hander will try for his fourth consecutive victory in the deciding game of the Cardinals' weekend set with the San Francisco Giants on Sunday afternoon at Busch Stadium.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made St. Louis -163 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 8 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 80% of bets for this game have been placed on St. Louis –163 View MLB Bet Percentages). Bet this game.
Looper (3-0, 2.70 ERA) has been a valuable piece of St. Louis' starting rotation that minus Chris Carpenter and Mark Mulder is among the best in the majors with a 10-3 record and a 3.05 ERA.
Despite falling 3-0 to the Giants on Saturday, the Cardinals (12-6) remain atop the NL Central standings and in position to win their second straight series.
San Francisco (7-11), meanwhile, snapped a three-game losing streak by winning for just the second time in eight road contests Saturday.
Looper, a former reliever who went 12-12 with a 4.94 ERA during his first season as a starter in 2007, was able to beat Milwaukee 6-1 on Tuesday despite walking five in five innings.
"When it's all said and done we won, and I made some pitches when I had to," said Looper, who allowed four earned runs in 6 1-3 innings of a 7-6 loss on July 7 in his only previous start against the Giants.
Though starter Joel Pineiro pitched well enough to keep the Cardinals in the game Saturday, they were limited to seven hits by San Francisco's Tim Lincecum and shut out for the first time in 2008, one night after an 11-1 victory over the Giants in the series opener.
"We had plenty of opportunities, but just couldn't get that one hit we needed," St. Louis second baseman Adam Kennedy said.
Kennedy and Skip Schumaker each had two hits for the Cardinals, while Albert Pujols went 0-for-3 after homering and driving in four runs Friday night.
Pujols, who had his 10-game hitting streak snapped but is batting .356 on the season, is 7-for-19 with two homers and eight RBIs against San Francisco in 2008.
While Looper looks to continue his early success, St. Louis hopes to get to Giants' scheduled starter Jonathan Sanchez (0-1, 6.00) on Sunday.
Sanchez has failed to earn a decision in his last two starts. He allowed three earned runs and six hits in five innings of the Giants' 5-4 win over Arizona on Monday after striking out 10 in six innings as San Francisco beat San Diego 1-0 on April 9.
The left-hander will make his first start versus the Cardinals, but did earn a win against them with three scoreless innings of relief on April 18, 2007.
On Saturday, Aaron Rowand went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and homered for the first time as a member of the Giants. The center fielder is batting .318 on the season and is 5-for-11 in four games versus St. Louis in 2008.
"It's starting to feel better. It's a long season," Rowand said. "It's nice to get the first one out of the way, but we've got a long season."
With the season series sitting at 3-3, Sunday will be these teams' final meeting in 2008.