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News » Cardinals-Reds Preview 2009-05-08


Cardinals-Reds Preview 2009-05-08


Cardinals-Reds Preview 2009-05-08
Cincinnati has had trouble beating the St. Louis Cardinals of late. With illness and injuries currently plaguing the Reds' roster, the challenge to end their skid against the NL Central leaders could be even tougher.

The Cardinals look for a fifth consecutive victory over the potentially short-handed Reds in the opener of a three-game series Friday night at Great American Ballpark.

St. Louis (19-10) enters this contest coming off a two-game home sweep of Pittsburgh after losing three in a row prior to that set.

"For us to bounce back the way we did, I think it shows a lot about the character of this team," said Cardinals catcher and former Red Jason LaRue, who hit the go-ahead homer in the Cardinals' 5-2 win over the Pirates on Thursday. "There's no quit."

The Cardinals went 10-5 against Cincinnati (15-13) last season and won the final four meetings between the clubs. St. Louis went 5-4 at Great American Ballpark where the Reds are 5-8 in 2009.

Ending that skid and turning things around at home likely won't be easy for Cincinnati, which managed a 6-5 victory over Milwaukee on Thursday despite missing Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips - its top run producers - to the flu. Shortstop Alex Gonzalez is still plagued by a pulled side muscle that will likely keep him out of this series.

"It shows us we can win no matter who we put out there," manager Dusty Baker told the Reds' official Web site. "You'd rather have the big bats out there, but if not, you have to win with what you have."

The Reds can certainly use Votto - batting .370 with a team-best 23 RBIs - and Phillips, who is 10 for 28 with three homers and 11 RBIs in his last six games.

On Thursday, Jay Bruce homered to extend his hitting streak to eight games for the Reds, who have alternated wins and losses in their last six games. Bruce has three home runs during that span, but hit .190 with 13 strikeouts in 12 games versus the Cardinals last season.

Regardless of who's in the lineup, the Reds hope to benefit from having Johnny Cueto on the mound.

Cueto (2-1, 1.65 ERA) allowed four hits and struck out nine in eight innings of a 5-0 win at Pittsburgh on Sunday. The right-hander has allowed two runs in 26 2-3 innings over his last four starts.

"I want to go deep in the game," Cueto said. "I'm working hard to be more consistent and that's the goal in every game."

Cueto has not been able to do that against St. Louis, going 0-2 with a 16.20 ERA against them.

The Cardinals counter with Joel Pineiro (4-1, 3.24), who looks to continue his strong start while trying to remain perfect against the Reds.

Pineiro allowed four runs - one earned - and seven hits in seven innings of a 6-1 loss at Washington on Saturday.

The right-hander is 3-0 with a 2.22 ERA in four career starts against the Reds, with two victories coming at hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark.

Skip Schumaker had three hits and Ryan Ludwick drove in a run Thursday for the Cardinals. Ludwick is batting .344 with nine homers and 26 RBIs in 29 career games against Cincinnati.

Albert Pujols, who's batting .356 despite going hitless Thursday, is a lifetime .367 hitter with 35 homers versus the Reds.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 8, 2009

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