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Series Preview: Cardinals vs. Diamondbacks

After a diappointing series lost 2-1 to the lowly Royals, the Cardinals come home to play Arizona for the third time in 2010.

The Diamondbacks are 12-28 on the road and 30-46 overall with rumors starting to swirl that their fire sale is about to be declared open for business. Meanwhile, the Cardinals continue to linger at seven games over .500, playing win one, lose one baseball since April. They're 23-12 at home, however they're only 5-10 against NL West teams this season.

Arizona has an all or nothing type of offense. Their best hitter for average is Justin Upton who is hitting only .271. But five of their starters have 11 or more home runs. The Diamondbacks also strike out a ton. Less than half way through the season, Mark Reynolds has struck out 107 times, Upton has struck out 97 and first baseman Adam LaRoche has 77.

At the plate, the Cardinals are struggling again. Catcher Yadier Molina is hitting .036 over the last two weeks. In the month of June, first baseman Albert Pujols is hitting a very unPujolslike .284 with four homers. Third sacker David Freese is hitting .234 with no homers and five RBIs in June. Ryan Ludwick, who has been on the bench lately with a calf problem, is hitting .120 over the last two weeks.

Pitching matchups:

Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter (9-1, 2.63) faces former St. Louis starter Danny Haren (7-6, 4.65) in the opener on Monday. It's the third time Haren has faced the Cardinals this year and, although he hasn't pitched particularly well in either of the previous two games, he's 2-0 against St. Louis so far this. Carpenter continues to be dominant. In his last start, the offense was able to break through for a single run in the ninth to give him the win against his original team, the Blue Jays.

Adam Wainwright (10-5, 2.47) starts the middle game of the series against new Diamondback Dontrelle Willis (2-2, 4.90). Willis was a bust in Detroit where he signed a huge contract extension following a trade from the Marlins. He's had horrible problems with his control. But he could be a handful for the impatient St. Louis hitters with his wild motion and his electric stuff. The Cardinals simply have to force Willis to throw strikes, something he hasn't proved that he can do. Wainwright had his worst start of the season last time out in Toronto. He lasted only four innings and gave up five runs, four of them earned. On the bright side, Wainwright ought to be well rested. Wainwright is 7-0 with a 1.67 ERA at Busch Stadium this year but only 3-5 with a 3.20 ERA on the road. 

In the finale, Jeff Suppan (0-3, 6.65) will make his fourth start this season with the Cardinals while the Diamondbacks have not yet announced who will take the turn in their rotation. Edwin Jackson (5-6, 4.63), who pitched a no-hitter in his last start, threw 149 pitches in the process. So he's expected to be skipped this time through to give him some extra rest. Suppan is 0-1 with a 3.95 ERA since rejoining St. Louis. He hasn't been spectacular. But he has given the team a chance to stay in the games he starts.