National League Battle: St. Louis Cardinals at Los Angeles Dodgers

The St. Louis Cardinals are coming off an impressive 15-5 road victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks and now get set to face off against another National League West club

St. Louis Cardinals at Los Angeles Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers return home to face the St. Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium

St. Louis has won three of four games and compiled a .356 batting average with 15 doubles, nine homers and 37 runs over that span.  “We’re not going to score 15 runs every night, but we’re swinging the bats like we are capable of,” said outfielder Lance Berkman.  “We have the potential to have an explosive offense.”  Star first baseman Albert Pujols also joined into the fun in the desert, rattling off six hits in his final nine at-bats in the series against the Diamondbacks, after seeing his average dip to .128 at one point.  St. Louis is 3-3 in road games this year and at night.

Cardinals starting pitcher Jaime Garcia has been dynamite early in the season and has struck out 18 in 15 innings while being backed by just two runs in each game.  “The way I see it is, I went home and had a great offseason, worked as hard as a I could and got ready,” Garcia commented.  “Spring Training I worked really hard too.  The way I see it, it’s paying off, the hard work.”  The left-hander also got off to a hot start last year, going 4-2 with a 1.14 ERA through his first nine starts of the 2010 campaign.  He struggled in his only appearance against the Dodgers, throwing 82 pitches in 3 1/3 innings, allowing two runs and eight hits.

Los Angeles has dropped three of its last four games and fell 4-3 at San Francisco on Wednesday.  “We were pretty much in every game,” manager Don Mattingly said of his 6-6 team.  “We’re OK.”  The Dodgers ran their record to 0-6 when trailing after six innings and Mattingly was asked if his depleted current roster makes catchup a difficult game to play.  “Not really, no, not really,” he said.  The offense will need to rely on the bat of outfielder Andre Ethier in this series, who has a .447 average with one homer and five RBIs in his past 12 home meetings with St. Louis.  Los Angeles is 4-1 versus left-handed starters this year.

Dodgers starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda is off to his best start in four seasons in the majors and threw a gem in a 4-0 win at San Diego on Saturday.  The right-hander has a 1.42 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 19 innings over three starts against the Cardinals, but is 0-1 due to getting just three total runs of support over that span.  Kuroda has received 11 runs of support in his two outings this year, compiling a perfect 2-0 mark and 1.72 ERA.

Bettors will likely back the Dodgers due to their 16-5 record in Kuroda’s last 21 starts versus the National League Central, while the Cardinals are 0-5 in their last five games in Los Angeles.

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