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Series Preview: Cardinals vs. Phillies

Fresh off their four-game sweep of the Dodgers, the Cardinals welcome the reeling Phillies to Busch Stadium.

Philadelphia lost three of four to the Cubs in Chicago to start its second half. It would have been a clean sweep if not for a Carlos Marmol blow up on Saturday that saw the Chicago reliever walk four and issue a single to let the Phillies off the mat with a four-run ninth inning.

While they're 5-5 in their last 10 games and their record has sagged to 48-42, 4 1/2 games behind Atlanta and only half a game in front of the Mets, the Phillies are still a dangerous club at the plate. Chase Utley is out with an injury, but Ryan Howard is hitting .299 with 20 homers and 71 RBIs in the middle of the order. Dynamic leadoff man Jimmy Rollins, who has missed large chunks of the season with injuries, is finally getting up to speed.

Pitching matchups:

The Redbirds will miss Philadelphia ace Roy Halladay who pitched Sunday night against the Cubs.

The Phillies hope to get off to a good start in game one, the pitching pairing that is most favorable to them. The Cardinals will send Blake Hawksworth (3-5, 4.73) against Kyle Kendrick(5-3, 4.44). But Hawksworth (hopefully) won't be a pushover. He's pitched very well lately with a 1-1 record and a 3.86 ERA in his last three starts. Kendrick has been a fill in starter for Philadelphia in much the same way Hawksworth has for St. Louis. He's also pitched very well lately with a 1-0 record and 2.16 ERA in his last three appearances. In his career, Kendrick is 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA against the Cardinals.

Chris Carpenter(10-3, 3.16) is fresh off an excellent start Thursday against Los Angeles in which he allowed only one run over eight innings. Maybe his struggles before the break were mechanical and not health related... He'll face former Cardinals lefty Jamie Moyer(9-9, 4.88) who has had a rough ride lateley with an 0-2 record with a 14.14 over the last two weeks. Don't remember Moyer's time in St. Louis? It's understandable. It happened nearly 20 years ago way back in 1991 when the lefty was 28 years old. He was 0-5 with a 5.74 ERA before the Birds decided he was washed up and cut him loose. Moyer has been getting payback ever since with a 5-1 record and a 2.34 ERA against the Cardinals over the course of his career.

In game three, Jaime Garcia (8-4, 2.27) will take the hill opposed to Joe Blanton (3-5, 6.21). Garcia has had wins stolen from him a couple of times this season because of a lack of offense. On Friday, however, luck was on his side. Garcia was terrible with eight hits allowed in 3 1/3 innings but managed to allow only two runs when it could have been a whole lot worse. Blanton pitched pretty well his last time out with five hits and three runs allowed in seven innings against Chicago. But his club lost 4-3. He was pounded for 12 hits and six runs -- five earned -- in 5 1/3 innings against the Reds in his last start before the All-Star break.

Adam Wainwright (14-5, 2.02) will face Cole Hamels(7-7, 3.63) in the finale on Thursday afternoon. Wainwright was brilliant his last time out against Los Angeles. But what else is new? Over the last month, Wainwright is 4-1 with a 1.35 ERA. In his last three starts, Hamels is 1-0 with a 1.67 ERA.