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Dodgers series preview

The Cardinals have made the most out of a soft stretch in their schedule. So it is going to be interesting to see if their recent success can be kept up now that they are making the dreaded late season west coast trip.

The Cardinals go from playing bottom dwelling Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and San Diego to taking on the first place Dodgers, the team with the best record in the National League. Los Angeles is 70-43 in the competitive NL west. 

The Dodgers haven't looked quite as tough lately. They have won only eight of their last 21 games -- including losing three of four games to the Cardinals in St. Louis at the end of July. The Cardinals are 10-3 in August and have scored five or more runs in eight of those 13 games.

On the hill in the opener for the Cardinals is ace Chris Carpenter, who hopes to keep pace with rotation mate Adam Wainwright in the Derby for the National League Cy Young Award. Carp is 12-3 with a 2.27 ERA and he has an eye popping ratio of 97 strikeouts compared to 19 walks.

Carpenter will face the Charlie Haeger, who is making his season debut for Los Angeles. He was 11-6 with a 3.55 ERA in Class AAA Albequerque before the call up.

Unfamiliar/unaccpmlished pitchers -- like the lefties who were stacked up against the Cardinals earlier in the year -- were considered to be poison to the St. Louis lineup. But they didn't help the Padres and there is little doubt that it would be a major disappointment if the Birds can't win the opener behind Carpenter.

Cardinals minor league call up Mitchell Boggs (1-1, 3.78) will face star Dodgers youngster Chad Billingsley (11-6, 3.73) in game two.

Adam Wainwright (14-7, 3.62) faces lefty Clayton Kershaw (8-7, 2.91) in game three.