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Series preview: Cardinals @ Mets

The Cardinals and Mets had some titanic battles at the top of the standings during the Whitey Herzog era. But, in 2010, the Mets are down on their luck and find themselves mired 7 1/2 games back of the National League East lead in third place.

While it looked for a while like they were getting their act together, New York has resumed its troubling ways and has dropped 13 of its last 17 games. The Mets have lost five straight series.

That being said, New York is a much different team at home than it is on the road. At The House That Subprime Loans Built, the Mets are an impressive 30-16 while they're an equally attention getting 20-33 away from the five boroughs.

While some in St. Louis have been disappointed by Cardinals free agent signing Matt Holliday and his .305 batting average with 18 homers and 57 runs batted in, just imagine how Mets rooters are embracing New York's big off-season pickup, Jason Bay.

Bay's hitting .257 with six home runs and 47 RBI to the bemusement of New York's fan base. Third baseman David Wright and rookie first sacker Ike Davis have shouldered the burden of the slugging. Wright's hitting .298 with 15 homers and 68 ribbies. Davis is hitting .249 with 14 home runs and and 46 driven in.

Pitching matchups:

The Cardinals will send co-ace Adam Wainwright (14-5, 1.94) to the hill Tuesday against Jon Niese(6-4, 3.54). Wainwright is unscored upon in his last three starts, winning two of them and getting no decision after shutting out the Phillies for seven frames his lat time out. Niese has pitched pretty well his last three times out, compiling a 3.20 ERA. But he's got nothing to show for it with two losses and a no decision on his record.

In game two, Jaime Garcia (9-4, 2.21) will take on Mike Pelfrey(10-5, 4.00). Garcia seems to have put a rough patch just before the All-Star break behind him. In his most recent start against Philadelphia he bent but didn't break, allowing one run in seven innings. The Cardinals have trouble hitting pitchers they're unfamiliar with, so maybe the Mets will have the same problems. The only New York hitter he's faced before is Bay who is 0-for-1 against him. Pelfrey has been bombed in his last three starts with two losses and a 10.45 ERA to show for it. But he's 2-0 lifetime with a 1.20 ERA against the Cardinals. Ryan Ludwick, Yadier Molina and Aaron Miles are .500 hitters against Pelfrey in six at bats apiece. Matt Holliday is a .375 hitter against him while Albert Pujols is hitless in his career against Pelfrey.

Hopefully the Cardinals can win the first two games of the series because fill in starter Blake Hawksworth (4-6, 5.23) is paired up against Mets ace Johann Santana(8-5, 2.79) in the finale. Santana has been red hot with two wins and no losses and a 0.82 ERA in his last three starts. He's 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA in his career against St. Louis. Hawksworth was shaky over the weekend againt the Cubs, lasting only 4 1/3 innings in a loss. He's 2-1 with a 6.32 ERA in his last three outings.