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Brewers series preview

A familiar face will oppose the Cardinals Tuesday as the Brewers come to town for what looked a month or so ago like it might be a vital battle for the NL Central crown.





But the Cardinals, 77-55, are 12 games ahead of the 64-66 Brew Crew, reducing Milwaukee to spoiler status.



Braden Looper, twice a former Redbird, will bring an 11-6 record with a 4.48 ERA to St. Louis -- provided that he isn't traded to a contender before the Monday waiver trade deadline. He'll face Joel Pineiro who is 13-9 with a 3.11 ERA.





Looper, motivated by the Cardinals' decision not to offer him a contract when he became a free agent at the end of the 2008 season, beat the Birds the only time he faced him earlier this year.





Dave Bush (3-5, 5.88) will square off against Cy Young Award candidate Chris Carpenter (14-3, 2.20) in the middle game of the series Wednesday. Carpenter wasn't especially sharp the last time out and he threw a bunch of pitches to hasten his exit. Hopefully, pitching with the extra day of rest afforded by the Monday day off will help him out a little bit.





In game three of the set, John Smoltz will make his third start as a Cardinal againt Manny Parra, a lefty (9-10, 6.66) who has bedeviled St. Louis hitters the last couple of seasons. But that was then... Since the Matt Holliday trade, the Cardinals are 12-2 in games started by lefties. Smoltz has pitched 11 innings for St. Louis, allowing one run. He's struck out 15 and walked one in that span.

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