Pirates Vs. Cardinals Series Preview: St. Louis Takes Aim At Pittsburgh In Weekend Showdown

ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 1: Starter Jake Westbrook #35 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium on July 1, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

The Cardinals can take control of the Wild Card race with the Pirates this weekend with a crucial three-game series at home.

The St. Louis Cardinals, coming off a big series win against the Arizona Diamondbacks, aim to continue their move up the standings with a crucial three-game series at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Trailing the visitors in the Wild Card standings by just one game, the Cardinals have a chance to take advantage of a slumping Pirates team that has lost six of their last eight games.

The Cardinals are 9-6 so far in the month of August and have a chance to leap over the Pirates in the NL Central standings and could take early control over what could be a crazy Wild Card race in September.

RHP Jake Westbrook (12-8, 3.62) takes the mound against RHP James McDonald (10-5, 3.77) on Friday night in the first game of the series. Westbrook is riding a five-game winning streak and has allowed more five or more runs just once in his past ten starts. First pitch is set for 7:15 p.m. CT, with coverage on Fox Sports Midwest and KMOX.

RHP Lance Lynn (13-5, 3.65) faces LHP Erik Bedard (7-12, 4.56) on Saturday. Lynn has yet to record a win in the month of August, allowing four runs in each of his last two starts. The Cardinals have faired relatively well against Bedard this season, chasing the Pirates pitcher after 4.2 innings in July in a 5-4 win. First pitch is set for 3:05 p.m. CT, with coverage on Fox and KMOX.

LHP Jaime Garcia (3-4, 4.48) takes on RHP Jeff Karstens (4-3, 3.91) on Sunday. Garcia is making his first start since June as he returns to the rotation following a shoulder injury, with Joe Kelly heading back to the bullpen with his return. First pitch is set for 1:15 p.m. CT, with coverage on Fox Sports Midwest and KMOX.

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout and SB Nation Pittsburgh. For more on the Cards, head over to Viva El Birdos.

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