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Series preview: Cardinals at Rockies

Coming off a disappointing homestand, the Cardinals now head to Colorado where they'll take on the Rockies, winners of five of their last seven games.

The Rocks are 44-38 in third place in the surprisingly competitive National League West. And some bad news for the Cardinals, who have had their troubles scoring runs, is that Colorado hasn't lost a game in it's last 10 contests in which the opposition hasn't scored at least 10 runs.

The Birds average only 3.9 runs per game on the road and are 18-22 away from Busch Stadium. Thet have lost three of their last five games.

In the opener, Blake Hawksworth (2-5, 5.02) takes on Jeff Francis (2-3, 4.67.) If I was Jeff Suppan, I wouldn't buy a new house in St. Louis. Despite some pretty awful numbers up to this point, the Cardinals chose to go with Hawksworth and skip Suppan's turn in the rotation thanks to a day off. Hawksworth has actually been pretty good the last couple of times out. So the Redbirds could just be going with the hotter hand... But by skipping his turn in the rotation the Cardinals don't seem to be very interested in fine tuning Suppan or in building up his endurance after being exiled in the Milwaukee bullpen for most of the season. Francis is a lefty, which could give the Cardinals problems. But he doesn't strike out many -- just one every other inning -- and he's been hit hard recently. He got bombed to the tune of eight earned runs on seven hits and three walks in his last start against San Diego. That one bad game drove his ERA up 1.14 runs per nine innings pitched.

Jaime Garcia (8-4, 2.10) takes on Aaron Cook (3-5, 4.66) in the middle game of the series. Garcia recovered nicely in his last start after having a rough time in Kansas City. Although Coors Field isn't the imposing offensive park it once was, it will be interesting to see how Garcia handles the pressure of pitching there. Cook is 1-1 with a 2.95 ERA in his last three starts. In his last 21 1/3 innings, he's given up only 14 hits. All three of his wins are at home while all five of his losses have come on the road. Cook is 1-4 with a 5.07 ERA lifetime against St. Louis.

In the finale, Chris Carpenter (9-2, 3.16) takes on Jhoulys Chacin(5-7, 3.59). The Cardinals ace was beaten like a rented mule the last time he pitched. But he insists he's healthy, a concern not only because he was hit by a line drive on his pitching arm ala Kyle Lohse two starts ago but also because of his history of nerve problems in his pitching arm. Coors Field doesn't scare Carp, who has a 3-0 record with career record against the Rockies with an 0.63 ERA in Denver for his career. The 22-year-old righty Chacin averages more than a strikeout per inning and has allowed only 60 hits in 72 2/3 innings. Unfortunately, he's never faced the Cardinals before. The only St. Louis hitter who has stepped to the plate against Chacin is Aaron Miles with a whopping one at bat. The Cardinals miss Rockies ace Ubaldo Jiminez (14-1, 2.27). But he's only 1-2 with a 4.33 ERA in St. Louis... By the way, if this match-up doesn't make you giddy with anticipation, the Birds face (cue the scary music) the Astros and Bud Norris on Friday.

On the bright side, maybe a return to Coors Field will be the thing that finally gets Matt Holliday fired up. The former Rockies flychaser is a .357 career hitter in Denver.