Cheap Seats

Cardinals face another tough rookie

The Cardinals have one of the best pitchers in the National League -- Adam Wainwright (13-7, 2.73) taking the hill Friday night against the Padres.

Unfortunately, the Padres have a rookie pitcher -- and a very successful one at that -- pitching against the Birds. And we all know how well the Cardinals seem to do against pitchers who they haven't seen before or that they don't have any video tape on. They're going to have to get over that and bear down against the kid. As Matt Holliday said last week, St. Louis batters need to work pitchers early and get an idea of what they have so they can turn up the heat in the later innings.

While the Cubs have lost five in a row, one would have to believe that isn't going to last forever. Especially when they hit another soft patch in their schedule. So the Redbirds need to take advantage of playing one of the weak sisters of the NL and continue to pile up the wins.

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Padres rookie Mat Latos. AP Photo.

Padres started Mat Latos only has five starts under his belt. But he has made the most of his few opportunities with a 4-1 record and a 2.43 ERA. He's pitched 29 innings and allowed only 19 hits and nine walks while striking out 23.

Albert Pujols is 15-for-39 over his last 10 games for a .385 batting average while Holliday is hitting .415 (17-for-41) over the same stretch.

The Padres are 49-67 and in fifth place in the NL West, but are 6-4 over their last 10. The Cardinals, winners of seven of their last 10 games, are 64-52, in first by 4 1/2 games. On Aug. 14, 2008, the Birds were also 12 games over .500 at 68-56. But back then it was only good for  7 1/2 games out of the NL Central lead in third place.