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Mets-Cardinals Preview

Mets-Cardinals Preview
With a seemingly never-ending list of injuries, the St. Louis Cardinals' ability to stay near the top of the NL Central has been one of baseball's biggest surprises.

Kyle Lohse has turned a few heads himself.

Signed by St. Louis just two weeks before opening day, Lohse will look to pick up his 10th win on Monday when the Cardinals begin a four-game set with the visiting New York Mets.

St. Louis (47-36) has seen its best pitcher, Adam Wainwright, and one of baseball's best hitters, Albert Pujols, miss significant time due to injury. In all, 15 Cardinals have gone on the disabled list since the start of the season.

But they have the second-best record in the NL thanks to a starting rotation that has been one of the league's best. Lohse (9-2, 3.94 ERA), who was signed during spring training after pitching for Cincinnati and Philadelphia in 2007, can surpass his win total from last season with a victory against the Mets (40-41).

He's won six of his last seven starts and is 6-0 with a 2.87 ERA since May 18. He did not receive a decision in his most recent start, lasting four innings at Detroit, giving up five runs in the Cardinals' 8-7 loss.

"I was all over the place tonight," Lohse told the team's official Web site. "I was leaving a lot of balls out over the middle. I almost got out of it a couple times, but bottom line, I just didn't make enough good pitches."

Lohse is 4-1 with a 3.10 ERA at Busch Stadium this season.

St. Louis is looking for its third win in a row after taking the final two games from Kansas City over the weekend. The Cardinals had lost the first four games to their intrastate rival this season before winning 5-1 on Saturday and 9-6 on Sunday.

Pujols went 2-for-4 on Sunday and hit his first homer since June 10, the last game he played before going on the disabled list with a strained left calf.

New York can climb back to .500 with a win on Monday. Like St. Louis, manager Jerry Manuel's team is coming off a series against its biggest interleague rival. The Mets took the opener of their four-game set with the Yankees on Friday before scoring just two combined runs in losing the next two games.

They salvaged a split on Sunday, allowing four hits en route to a 3-1 win while improving to 6-6 under Manuel. They'll now start an eight-game road trip against NL contenders St. Louis and Philadelphia.

"Obviously, we've got some big series coming up," Manuel said.

John Maine (8-5, 3.73) will look to give New York its third straight impressive start, following strong performances by Johan Santana and Oliver Perez. Maine has delivered quality outings his last two times out as well, allowing two runs over 6 2-3 innings in a win at Colorado on June 20, then yielding a pair of runs over six innings in an 8-2 victory over Seattle on Wednesday.

"I felt mechanically I was OK today," Maine said. "My whole problem is I get mechanically out of whack. It's something I've got to work on between starts."

Lohse and the Cardinals will have to worry about Mets third baseman David Wright, who's been on a tear since being given his first day off this season by Manuel on Tuesday.

Wright is 9-for-18 (.500) with three homers and eight RBIs in five games since.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: June 30, 2008

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