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Series Preview: Cardinals vs. Reds

Forgive Cardinals fans if they give Cincinnati starter Mike Leake the business when the Reds come to town for a three-game set starting Friday.

After all, Cincinnati fans were doing a pretty good job of it when Leake pitched at his home park on Thursday.

According to the Associated Press coverage of the game, Reds fans hassled the 23-year-old pitcher who was accused Monday of swiping $60 worth of shirts Monday from Macy's with signs that said "Steal us a win Leake" and "Mike Leake, we gave you the bunt sign not the steal sign." Nice.

Despite the lack of support, Leake beat the Diamondbacks to help the Reds win for the only time in their last five games.

Also making the trip to St. Louis will be former Cardinals third baseman Scott Rolen who was benched by Reds manager Dusty Baker on Thursday because he "looked slow." Rolen is hitting .217 with two homers so far this season. Joey Votto leads the Reds with a .413 batting average although he's hit only two homers. Jonny Gomes leads Cincy in the home run department with six and in RBIs with 14.

The Cardinals have a pair of players with six homers, Lance Berkman and Albert Pujols who, despite his .247 batting average, has shown signs of life lately. He's 14 for 42 (.333) over his last 10 games and has homered five times in the last week and a half.

Pitching matchups:

Edinson Volquez (2-0, 6.75) will take on Kyle McClellan (2-0, 1.89) in the opening game. Volquez is 1-1 with a 4.98 ERA in his career against the Cardinals. He's only allowed 14 hits in 21 2/3 innings pitched against St. Louis. But he's walked 14 in that same span to allow more than 1 1/2 Redbirds baserunners per inning. McClellan threw seven innings of one-run ball to beat the Dodgers his last start. He walked none and struck out two.

In the middle game, Travis Wood (1-2, 5.73) will take on Chris Carpenter (0-2, 4.12). Wood shut out the Cardinals for five innings in his lone start against St. Louis which came last year. Carpenter can't get any offensive support at all from his teammates. He shut out the Dodgers for seven innings in his last start but got no decision in an eventual 2-1 loss.

Jefferson City, Mo. native Sam LeCure (0-1, 4.15) will start for the Reds in the finale. He is expected to take on Jake Westbrook (1-2, 9.82). But Westbrook, who would be pitching on three days rest Sunday night, has been terrible all season. Is it wise to push him up and have him pitch at an even greater disadvantage? Who knows? Maybe it will make his sinker work for a change...

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