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Preview: Cardinals vs. Reds

The last time the Cardinals faced the Reds it was the opening week of the season in Cincinnati. The Birds took two of three in that stretch, setting up the early season patter of win two, lose one...

Like the first series, the Birds have a decided pitching advantage, at least on paper.

Brad Penny (3-0, 0.94) will take on Johnny Cueto (0-1, 5.73) in the Friday opener. Penny last pitched in a brilliant start on the road against the red hot Giants while Cueto was supposed to pitch yesterday but was skipped in the rotation by manager Dusty Baker. According to, Baker wanted to give Cueto an extra day of rest because he was allowed to throw a total of 322 pitches in his last three starts.

In game two Saturday, Kyle Lohse (0-1, 6.55) takes the hill against Homer Bailey (0-1, 7.06.) Lohse has been rough in the early going, as his numbers indicate. But, after struggling with his control early in his last start, he settled down and threw two very efficient innings to end the outing. Bailey has given up 30 hits and 10 walks in 21 2/3 innings, allowing opponents plenty of baserunners. Still, he has struck out 21, nearly one batter an inning. His career ERA at Busch Stadium is infinity. He's made only one start at the St. Louis ballpark where he faced three hitters and got none of them out.

Aaron Harang (1-3, 7.16) will take the hill Sunday against Chris Carpenter (3-0, 3.48) in a battle of aces. it's the first time Carpenter has lined up against the oppositions top starter since he last faced Harang. In the second series of the season, manager Tony La Russa flip flopped his rotation to move Carpenter ahead of Jaime Garcia, allegedly to spare Garcia from pitching on national TV in his first start. Lifetime, Carpenter is 8-3 with a 2.27 ERA against Cincinnati.

Who's hot:

Colby Rasmus has upped his batting average to .344 and leads the National League with a .487 on base percentage. He's onle been held without a hit in one of his last 10 games. During that span, Rasmus has four homers, nine RBI, 13 runs scored and eight walks.

David Freese was a triple away from hitting for the cycle Thursday against the Braves. In his last three games, he's 6-for10 with a homer and nine RBIs.

Who's not:

Matt Holliday continues to be unable to hit at home. He's 2-for-14 on the homestand. Since the Cardinals returned from San Francisco, where he was held hitless in the finale, Holliday has seen his batting average drop from .300 to .274. Holliday has a disturbing eight RBIs on the season, although a bad bounce cost him one on Thursday. He hit a long line drive with a runner on first that would have driven him all the way around the bases. But the ball hopped over the wall for a ground rule double and the runner had to go back to third.