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Series preview: Cardinals vs. Braves

The Cardinals come home from a 4-2 road trip in which they secured their first sweep of the season to square off against what might be the best team they've faced so far this season.

Atlanta is 19-13 and in second place in the National League East and is 8-5 against National League Central competion. The Braves are the only team besides the 16-14 Reds that the Redbirds have played which is currently over the .500 mark. (But the Birds have had more than a little to do with knocking the division foes they've played below the even mark...) Atlanta is 5-5 in its last 10 games while the Cardinals are 6-4 and are tied with the Dodgers for the best record in the Senior Circuit at 20-11.

Mike Minor (2-2, 5.97) will start the first game against St. Louis lefty Jaime Garcia (2-2, 3.76). Minor, a lefty, has only started one game against the Cardinals in his career. He got no decision after allowing seven hits and four runs on a pair of homers in five innings. He's 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA this season in games away from Turner Field. Garcia is 2-0 in his career against Atlanta with a 2.84 ERA. At home this season he is 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA.

In the middle game, Brandon Beachy (3-1, 1.62) will take on the Cardinals' recovering ace Adam Wainwright (2-3, 5.61). In his lone start against St. Louis, Beachy got no decision in a seven-inning outing in which he allowed three hits and two runs. He's one his last three decisions and is 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA on the road. Wainwright got off to a terrible start but has been coming on lately with back-to-back-to-back strong starts. He has allowed 18 hits and six runs in his last 20 innings. He's 6-0 in his career against the team that drafted him and swapped him to St. Louis with a 2.25 ERA.

Tommy Hanson (3-3, 3.63) will start the finale against Lance Lynn (6-0, 1.40). Like the previous two Atlanta hurlers, Hanson has only started once against St. Louis and has no decision to show for it. He threw seven innings and allowed two runs on five hits. Lynn is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA at home this season and has never started a game against Atlanta.

Hot hitters:

The Cardinals have several players amongst the league's top batsmen. Jon Jay is third in batting average at .379 and Rafael Furcal is fifth at .361. Carlos Beltran in eighth in the NL in slugging percentage at .569. Beltran is third in runs scored with 24 while Furcal is fourth at 23. Furcal leads the NL in hits with 44. Molina is second in doubles with 12. Furcal is fourth with 10. Beltran is second in the league in homers with 10. David Freese is tied for six with seven long balls. Matt Holliday is tied for 10th with six. Beltran is tied for second in RBIs with 27. Freese is fourth with 26 and Holliday is ninth with 22.

Atlanta's Freddy Freeman is fifth in runs scored with 22 and ninth in hits with 35. Chipper Jones will make his last regular season appearance at Busch Stadium. He's batting .295 with five homers in 21 games played. 

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