MLB Preview 2012: Pittsburgh Pirates vs. St. Louis Cardinals

The Pittsburgh Pirates (42-35) and St. Louis Cardinals (40-38) will close out a three-game National League Central series on Sunday afternoon at Busch Stadium, with the first pitch scheduled for 2:15 ET

Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals

Pittsburgh Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen will likely be out of Sunday's lineup

Pittsburgh will wake up today and wish it was still June, winning 17 games in a month for the first time since August 2007, while leading the NL with 39 home runs.  The Pirates have won a season-high four straight games, scoring 37 runs over that span.  Star outfielder Andrew McCutchen has played a major part in the team’s recent success, but will likely sit in this affair after spraining his left wrist in Saturday’s 7-3 victory.  Pittsburgh is 10-8 as a road underdog of +125 to +150.

Pirates starting pitcher Erik Bedard (4-8, 4.27) has watched the club drop his last three efforts, including a 5-4 road setback to the Philadelphia Phillies last time out, giving up four runs and eight hits over six frames.  The left-hander is 2-6 with a 6.23 ERA in eight road outings, as opposing hitters are batting .298 against him.  In two career starts versus the Cardinals, Bedard has tallied an even 1-1 record and 3.00 ERA, issuing six walks and striking out 18 batters in 12 innings.

St. Louis has finished the last two months with a losing record, which includes a 13-14 record in June, as the club sits in third place in the division.  The Cardinals are now focused on avoiding a three-game sweep at home to the Pirates for the first time since May 1991.  It’s important to note that the club is 19-15 against divisional foes in 2012, while splitting the first eight games in this season series.  St. Louis is 7-16 when playing a team with a winning record.

Cardinals starting pitcher Jake Westbrook (6-6, 3.77 ERA) has led the club to three consecutive wins, but he didn’t factor into the decision of an 8-7 road win over the Miami Marlins last time out.  The right-hander is 3-2 with a 4.83 ERA in seven home outings, as opposing hitters are batting .308 against him.  In 10 career games (six starts) versus the Pirates, Westbrook has tallied an 0-5 record and 5.06 ERA, including a 0-2 mark and 4.15 ERA in two such outings this season.

Bettors will likely back the Cardinals due to their 9-4 record when the total is 9 to 9.5, while the Pirates are 0-4 in Bedard’s last four tries as a road underdog.

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