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Pirates series preview

It's hard to peg the Buckos, who are only 13-15 but are fresh off pummeling the Cubs in their last three games.

The Pirates have a terrible starting rotation, which could be a problem since the Cardinls have a hard time handling terrible pitchers. But they have a knack for scoring runs even without any big name sluggers... Well, I guess some people could consider Andy LaRoche a big name slugger. But I think he'd have a hard time finding his way into the third or fourth slot in any other team's batting order.

In game one, Chris Carpenter (4-0, 2.85) will take on Zach Duke (2-3, 6.09). Carpenter has been coming on strong lately after struggling with his control at the start of the season. He's only allowed 27 hits in 39 innings and seems to be over giving up homers, as he did at an alarming rate the first couple of times he pitched. Carpenter has been much better at Busch Stadium than on the road this season with a 2.44 ERA in St. Louis and a 4.25 standing on a foreign mound But Carpenter in 11-1 lifetime against the Pirates with a 2.27 ERA. Duke has lost his last three starts and is 4-5 with a 3.73 ERA in his career against the Redbirds.

Jaime Garcia (3-1, 1.13) will toe the rubber in game two against Pirates hurler Jeff Karstens (0-1, 6.17) who is desperately hanging on to the last spot of Pittsburgh's rotation following a pasting at the hands of the Brewers. Opponents are batting .347 against him this season. Garcia, who has been stellar in his rookie campaign, has allowed 14 hits in 18 road innings and has a 2.00 road ERA (compared to 0.00 at home.)

The Cardinals list their Sunday starter as "TBA" although it's Adam Wainwright's turn in the rotation. The mystery pitcher will face Paul Maholm (2-2, 4.06.) Maholm is a lefty, so count on the Birds to have trouble with him. Maholm is 3-3 with a 3.09 ERA in his career against St. Louis. Wainwright struggled with his control the last time out and seemed to be pulled early. Hopefully he doesn't have a health issue -- I haven't heard a peep about any problems -- and manager Tony La Russa just hasn't made a formal announcement about his Sunday starter.