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Series preview: Cardinals vs. Brewers

There's almost no point in scrutinizing the Cardinals' matchup with the Brewers. It doesn't matter who the Birds are playing at this point. They simply need to sweep the two-game series to try to make up the damage done in the standings by their inexplicable previous series loss to the awful Cubs.

After an exhilarating sweep of the Reds to regain the top spot in the National League Central, the Birds wasted a Chris Carpenter start on Saturday and lost 3-2. On Sunday returning starter Kyle Lohse was bombed and the Cardinals were down 8-1 before all of the starters were pulled and the bench jockeys rallied to get within two runs before the game ended as a 9-7 loss.

Milwaukee is 5-5 in its last 10. The Brewers just completed a series with the Rockies which they lost 2-1. The Cardinals seemed unusually motivated with Cincinnati but couldn't focus against Chicago. Maybe the Birds should concentrate on the fact that Milwaukee handed former St. Louis star Jim Edmonds to the Cincinnati for virtually nothing to aid the Reds cause. Whatever it takes, I guess...

Albert Pujols
has been red hot the last two weeks. He's 19 for his last 42 (.452) and on Sunday he hit his 30th homer of the season, making him the first player in history to hit 30 home runs in each of his first 10 seasons. On the other hand, Felipe Lopez has completely run out of gas. He's hitting .198 over the last month and only .111 over the past two weeks.

For the Brewers, Ryan Braun is nearly as hot as Pujols -- at least in terms of getting on base. He's batting .421 over the last two weeks. But he has only one home run and two RBIs in that stretch. Over his last six games, Milwaukee first baseman Prince Fielder is hitting .176 with one homer and three RBIs.

Pitching matchups:

In the opener, Jaime Garcia (10-5, 2.71) will take the hill on extra rest against Dave Bush (5-10, 4.78). Garcia is 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA and 16 strikeouts against the Brewers this season. He's 1-1 with a 6.06 ERA in his last three starts.  Bush is 2-6 with a 6.40 ERA in his career against St. Louis. In the last five years, Albert Pujols is a .453 hitter against Bush. Skip Schumaker hits .400 against him. Matt Holliday is a .273 hitter vs. Bush.

In the finale, Adam Wainwright (17-6, 1.99) will take on Randy Wolf (9-9, 4.86). Wainwright seemingly took the lead in the Cy Young race in his last outing, taking over the National League lead in ERA while tying for the lead in wins. He's 7-3 with a 1.94 lifetime ERA against Milwaukee and 3-0 with an 0.39 ERA in his last three starts. Wolf is 4-6 with a 3.64 ERA lifetime against the Redbirds. In his last three starts, Wolf is 2-0 with a 3.30 ERA.