St. Louis Prepares for One Last Run



2008-09-09

General Custer had his last stand at the Battle of Little Bighorn and the St. Louis Cardinals will have theirs, hopefully with much better results taking on division rival Chicago Cubs. St. Louis has very little chance of catching the Cubs, trailing by nine games (unless the North Siders keep losing), however, trails Milwaukee by four games in the loss column for the wild card spot in the National League, keeping hope alive. Having completed playing the Brewers this season, St. Louis needs to keep winning and believe Milwaukee will come back to them.

St. Louis (77-66, +10.8 units) won their last two games to win series over Florida, their first series win in seven tries. This also marked the first time they had won back to back games since Aug.20-22. The Cardinals werenít believed to even compete in NL Central, with ordinary lineup and too many starting pitchers from the recent past on the shelf. Everyday players like Ryan Ludwick helped Albert Pujols and others to form a decent everyday lineup. Where the Cardinals have suffered is a lackluster bullpen.

Manager Tony LaRussa has tried to make chicken salad out of chicken you know what and just has not been able to do so over the course of a long baseball season. The St. Louis bullpen ERA is 4.38 (4.84 at home), they have 20-30 record and have 28 blown saves, with 58.2 save percentage. All of these figures are among the worst in baseball.

Kyle Lohse (13-6, 3.76, 1.386 WHIP) will be entrusted with extending the Cards winning streak to three. Lohse has not won in over a month, but is 0-1 in his last four starts despite posting a 2.77 ERA. ď(Kyle) has got a very misleading win total,Ē manager Tony La Russa told the teamís official Web site. ďHeís definitely pitched well enough to have several more. Itís a team game, though.Ē Lohse and the Cardinals are 6-1 in his last seven Game One starts, however have failed to win in his last six outings.

For Chicago Cubs (86-57, +10.5 units) fans, the feeling of inevitability is rising to the surface. The Cubs have lost seven of last eight, the starting pitching is coming apart with injuries, the bullpen canít get anyone out and the teamís best hitters are slumping. Not exactly a recipe for successful September baseball.

Carlos Zambrano and Rich Harden are suffering arm ailments, which offer no guarantee of immediate cures. The Cubs bullpen, a strength a good part of the year, has a 10.50 ERA over the last five games while allowing 23 hits and 10 walks in 18 innings. Aramis Ramirez is batting .138 since the end of August and Derrick Lee hasnít driven in a run in 13 days. The Cubs are 25-45 (-26.5 Units) against the money line when playing against a marginal winning team (Win Pct. 51% to 54%).
Ryan Dempster (15-6, 2.99, 1.209), will try and save the day for Chicago.

Sportsbook.com has installed the Cubs as -119 money line favorites with total of Un8.5. The Chicago righthander is 13-3 when the money line is -100 to -150 this season. (Cubs Record) Lohse is pitching well for St. Louis and they have plenty to play for themselves. Lohse has generally come up big with 17-7 record at home, when the money line is +125 to -125 over the last three seasons. (Team's Record)
St. Louis is 10-1 against teams with winning percentage of .600 or higher and will be trying to even up the season series at five apiece. Maybe the change of scenery will help the first place Cubs who are 14-3 on the road versus teams with winning home records and have taken 10 of last 15 at Busch Stadium.

WGN and Fox Sports Midwest will the coverage starting at 8:15 Eastern, with these two rivals 6-2-1 Under in last nine meetings near The Arch.
StatFox Power Line Ė Chicago -164

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