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Cards Soar Into L.A. Looking to Push Dodgers Out of Top Roost

Evan BruschiniCorrespondent IAugust 17, 2009

ST LOUIS, MO - JULY 14:  National League All-Star Chad Billingsley of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals run off of the field during the 2009 MLB All-Star Game at Busch Stadium on July 14, 2009 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

While those in Philadelphia and Chicago may disagree, this week's Cardinals-Dodgers set features two of the top teams in the NL. The Dodgers are trending downward, and have gone 11-16 since the break, including losing three of four to the same Redbirds that they'll face now.

The Cardinals have headed the opposite way.

With the acquisitions of Matt Holliday, Mark DeRosa, and Julio Lugo, they've really shown that they have the hitting to go along with their All-Star pitching staff. They've won eight of their last nine, and have gone 18-9 since the break.

Let's break the series down game by game.

GAME 1: Chris Carpenter (12-3, 2.27 ERA) vs. Charlie Haeger (0-0, -.-- ERA)

This game features the Cardinals' ace going up against knuckleballer Charlie Haeger in his first game as a Dodger.

He has 10 previous Major League appearances over the past three seasons with the White Sox and Padres for a career mark of 1-2 with a 6.35 ERA. Haeger has a more varied repertoire than most knuckleballers, with a fastball and the occasional breaking ball.

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On the flip side, Chris Carpenter is the favorite for the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award, and one of the contenders for the NL Cy Young. As Carpenter has been nearly unhittable in his last several starts, I'm going to give this one to St. Louis.

GAME 2: Mitchell Boggs (1-1, 3.78) vs. Chad Billingsley (11-6, 3.73 ERA)

Mitchell Boggs will make another start as the No. 5 man for St. Louis on Tuesday. He looks to continue doing what the Cardinals expect from him—six solid innings and the ability to keep the game close.

Billingsley continues the good pitching in this series. He has been the ace of the Dodgers rotation thus far, and I believe that he can continue a good season here tonight. Boggs won't be able to control this potent Dodgers offense, and I'll reluctantly give this game to 'Dem Bums.

GAME 3: Adam Wainwright (14-7, 2.62 ERA) vs. Clayton Kershaw (8-7, 2.91 ERA)

The best pitching match-up of the series features Wainwright facing Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw has been one of, if not THE top pitcher, in the NL recently. He has dominated hitters since getting off to a somewhat shaky start to the season.

The same could be said for Adam Wainwright. Since starting off the season well enough, but not in the ace form the Cards wanted, he made some adjustments with his mechanics and has been positively lights-out.

This game is going to be good.  With two dominating offenses facing two dominating starting pitchers, it could go either way.

I'll give it to the Cardinals for two reasons.

One, as I mentioned previously, the Cardinals are red-hot coming in.

Two, I'm a Cardinals fan. While that's going to make me sound like a homer, it's because I've seen more of the Redbirds. Living on the East Coast makes it hard to see Dodger games.

As a closing note, I'd like to say that both of these teams will still be playing come October, so I look forward to a very exciting, very fun series!

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