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Cardinals vs. Reds, series preview

The Cardinals (7-3) on Tuesday get back to the National League Central grind with their fourth consecutive series against a division rival.

Cincinnati, whom the Redbirds beat two of three times last week on the Road, will visit Busch Stadium for a three-game set. The Reds are 4-6 overall. Their match-up with the Birds is thieir only NL Central play so far this season.

While they've done just fine without them, the Cardinals hope to start getting some of their key players back tonight as first baseman Lance Berkman is expected to return from a pulled calf muscle while there is no word yet if David Freese will return from a problem with a sore finger.

Johnny Cueto (1-0, 2.25) Will take on Kyle Lohse (2-0, 1.35) in the opener. Cueto is 4-4 with a 4.97 ERA in his career against the Cardinals. He started against St. Louis April 11 and gave up three runs on seven hits and a walk over five innings in a game that the Birds won 4-3. Cueto didn't factor into the decision. Lohse beat the Reds April 10 when he pitched six innings with one run allowed on four hits. He's 3-3 with a 3.83 ERA in his career against Cincinnati.

In the second game of the set, the Reds will send Mat Latos (0-1, 5.59) to the hill against Jaime Garcia (1-0, 4.22). Latos was picked up in an off-season trade with the Padres. He's 1-2 with a 10.80 ERA in his career against St. Louis in three career starts. The Cardinals racked up 23 hits and five walks against Latos in 13 1/3 innings against him. Garcia is 6-1 with a 3.38 ERA against Cincinnati. But he was lucky not to add a second loss to his resume last time he faced the Reds April 11 when he gave up 11 hits in 4 2/3 innings. Garcia allowed three earned runs in that start and received no decision.

Bronson Arroyo (0-0, 2.63) will start the finale against struggling St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright (0-2, 11.42). Arroyo is 7-12 with a 4.59 ERA in his career against the Cardinals. Wainwright has struggled with his mechanics and his velocity since the season started after a promising spring training. He's apparently suffering something of a dead arm period as he recovers from Tommy John surgery that wiped out his 2011 season and Wainwright is leaving his pitches up in the strike zone. He's 3-4 with a 3.98 ERA in his career against the Reds.