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Series preview: Cardinals at Cincinnati

After helping the Brewers open their season in Milwaukee, the Cardinals won't face any less intensity in their next three-game set.

They head to Cincinnati next where they face another heated rival with the goal of unseating the Redbirds from their perch at the top of the baseball universe.

The Reds are fresh off signing first baseman Joey Votto to a 10-year, $200-million contract exension and are rumored to be close to a five or six-year for second baseman Brandon Phillips. So, apparently, they plan to be all in for the forseeable future. While they've locked up their stars, they've put themselves it for what seems to be in inevitable financial disaster five years or so down the road when a team with an $80 million current payroll will have committed $38 million to a pair of guys in their mid thirties.

For now, the Birds send Jake Westbrook to the hill in the opening game of the Cincinnati series while the Reds counter with Homer Bailey.

Westbrook is 2-1 with a 4.39 ERA in his career against Cincinatti. Home runs have been a problem against the Reds for the Cardinals veteran. He's given up seven of them amongst 46 hits allowed in 41 innings pitched. Bailey has fared even worse against St. Louis. He's 2-5 with a 5,64 ERA in his career against St. Louis with six homers allowed in 44 2/3 innings. He's averaged less than five innings pitched in his nine career starts against the Cardinals.

Former Reds hurler Kyle Lohse will start the second game of the set for the Cardinals. He's 2-3 with a 4.14 ERA against his old club. But Lohse is coming off a very strong start in his season debut against the Marlins on opening day. He'll face Mike Leake who is making his season debut for Cincinnati. Leake is 1-1 with a 6.97 ERA in two career starts against St. Louis.

Jaime Garcia will start the series finale against Johnny Cueto. Garcia has owned the Reds in his brief career with a 6-1 record and a 3.13 ERA. He's allowed 38 hits and struck out 37 Cincinnati batters in 46 innings. Cueto is 4-4 against the Birds lifetime with a 4.94 ERA.

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