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Series Preview, Cardinals vs. Pirates, 4/4 - 4/6

Yeah, it's early in the season, but as far as I can tell, all the games count the same in the standings.

So, after a subpar opening series against the Padres, the Cardinals could use a big series against the weak Pirates to start piling up the wins -- and prevent themselves from digging a big hole from which to climb out later.

Pittsburgh -- 2-1 after their opening series in Chicago against the Cubs -- has been a thorn in the side of the Redbirds in recent years, although St. Louis did win nine of the 15 games the clubs played in 2010.

Charlie Morton, a 6-foot-5 righty, will start the opener for the Bucs. He's 1-3 with a 7.77 lifetime ERA against the Cardinals. Last year Morton was 2-12 with a 7.57 ERA for Pittsburgh. He'll be countered by St. Louis starter Kyle Lohse who was brilliant in spring training after a pair of lost seasons due to a forearm injury. He's 5-1 with a 3.47 lifetime ERA against the Pirates.

James McDonald (4-5 3.52 in 2010) will start the middle game of the set for Pittsburgh. He's 1-1 with a 3.61 ERA in five career appearances against St. Louis, one of them a start. McDonald is a 6-foot-5 lefty, so we should get an early look at the sort of pitcher the Cardinals have fared poorly against in the recent past. New St. Louis starter Kyle McClellan will take the ball for the Birds. He's allowed 14 hits to Pirates batters in 23 2/3 career innings against them with a 1.52 ERA.

Kevin Correia will start the Wednesday series finale for the Pirates. He won the Pirates road opener, allowing two runs on seven hits and a walk over six innings against the Cubs. A 6-foot-3 righty, he was 10-10 with a 5.40 ERA last year for Pittsburgh. He'll face St. Louis ace Chris Carpenter who deserved a win on opening day. He was robbed by the offense and the bullpen of a victory despite six strong innings pitched.

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