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Series preview: Cardinals vs. Astros

The Cardinals need to continue to take advantage of weak opponents as the trade depleted Astros roll into town for the three-game set.

Gone are Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman. Unfortunately, no one told Houston that their team should be even worse than the fifth place team it was with its two stars. The Astros have won five games in a row and seven out of their last 10. Despite the hot streak, Houston is 15 games under the .500 mark.

Pitching matchups:

The Cardinals will send their trade deadline acquisition, Jake Westbrook (6-7, 4.65) to the mound in the series opener against Brett Meyers (8-6, 3.10). Westbrook is 1-2 with a 4.12 ERA in his last three starts and hasn't fared very well against Houston in his career. He's 0-1 with an 8.12 ERA. But, on the bright side, Carlos Lee is the only Astros starter left who has faced Westbrook. Meyers, whom the Astros opted to keep at the trade deadline, has just signed a three-year contract extension to stay with the club. In his career, Meyers is 6-3 with a 4.55 ERA agaist St. Louis.

Rookie Jaime Garcia (9-4, 2.33) toes the rubber in game two against thorn in the Cardinals' side Bud Norris (3-7, 5.63). Garcia is 1-0 with a 3.31 ERA in his last three starts and should have another win to show for it. This is the first time he has faced Houston. The Redbirds finally solved the Norris mystery the last time they faced him. Still Norris is 4-1 with a 1.60 ERA against St. Louis. Albert Pujols has a career .200 batting average against Norris while Matt Holliday is hitting .167 against him.

Ace Chris Carpenter (11-3, 2.93) will pitch the finale against the main player Houston got in the Oswalt trade -- former Philadelphia prospect J.A. Happ (2-0, 1.27). Carpenter is 1-0 with a 1.57 ERA in his last three starts. He pitched a gem the last time he started but was victimized by a complete lack of offensive support. Carpenter is 6-4 with a 2.84 ERA in his career against the 'Stros. He's 8-2 with a 2.77 ERA at home this season. Happ is 0-1 with a 5.11 ERA against the Redbirds.