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Preview: Braves (54-45) at Cardinals (53-46)
BT Movements  ·  Line Movements
Game: 1
Venue: Busch Stadium
Date: August 22, 2013 8:15 PM EDT
  

A sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals last month was the launching point for the Atlanta Braves' lengthy winning streak.

Now, the Cardinals will look to take advantage of a depleted Braves lineup in the opener of a four-game set Thursday night in St. Louis.

The Braves (77-49) started their 14-game run - the majors' longest in 11 seasons - by taking three in a row at home over St. Louis from July 26-28, limiting the Cardinals to three runs and 14 hits. They've cooled off somewhat, winning six of their last 10, but will be without Jason Heyward and possibly Justin Upton on Thursday.

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Heyward is expected to miss four to six weeks with a broken jaw after being hit by a pitch in a 4-1, 10-inning road victory over the Mets on Wednesday. He recorded a 1.005 OPS with 15 RBIs in 23 games since being moving to the leadoff spot July 27, and the Braves are 19-4 during that stretch.

Upton missed his second straight game since straining his upper back while taking swings prior to Tuesday's 5-3 loss, though he said he thinks he will be ready to face St. Louis (73-53). Upton is batting .377 with seven home runs and 15 RBIs in his last 17 games.

Atlanta remains the lone team to knock off the Cardinals with Thursday's scheduled starter Joe Kelly (4-3, 3.01 ERA) on the mound since St. Louis added him to the rotation over a month ago.

Kelly is 4-0 with a 2.23 ERA in seven starts since July 6. He threw 6 1-3 scoreless innings while allowing seven hits in a 2-0 loss at Atlanta on July 27.

The right-hander matched a season high with six strikeouts his last time out, yielding four hits over six innings of a 4-0 road win over the Cubs on Saturday.

"He's stepped up and really taken advantage of it," manager Mike Matheny said. "You can tell he can't wait to get the ball."

Atlanta will activate left-hander Paul Maholm (9-9, 4.41) from the disabled list for his first start since July 20 due to a bruised wrist. Maholm has been much worse on the road, going 4-7 with a 6.03 ERA in 13 outings compared to a 1.93 ERA in seven starts at Turner Field.

St. Louis might not be the ideal opponent for him to return against, as he's 0-3 with a 6.18 ERA in his last five matchups.

The series will feature the top two contenders for the NL batting title in Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina and Braves third baseman Chris Johnson, who are both hitting .332. Molina is 10 for 27 in six games since returning from a sprained knee, though he was 0 for 4 in an 8-6 win in Milwaukee on Wednesday.

Johnson, who was 7 for 10 in these teams' first series, hit a three-run homer in the top of the 10th on Wednesday.

Carlos Beltran and Allen Craig homered in a six-run second inning for the Cardinals on Wednesday. Beltran, Craig, Matt Holliday, David Freese and Matt Carpenter combined to go 5 for 50 against Atlanta last month.

Beltran is 9 for 24 with two homers and two doubles off Maholm, while Craig is 6 for 14 with three doubles.

The Cardinals have lost eight of nine regular-season meetings with the Braves.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

 SERIES AT A GLANCE
GAME 1
Braves at Cardinals
Thu, Aug 22 Final 2 to 6
 Boxscores    Recaps
GAME 2
Braves at Cardinals
Fri, Aug 23 Final 1 to 3
 Boxscores    Recaps
GAME 3
Braves at Cardinals
Sat, Aug 24 Final 2 to 6
 Boxscores    Recaps
GAME 4
Braves at Cardinals
Sun, Aug 25 Final 5 to 2
 Boxscores    Recaps

 CURRENT LAS VEGAS LINE
 Team  ML   RUN   O/U 
 ATL  +130   -175   8.5 
 STL  -140   +155   
LAS VEGAS LINE MOVEMENTS

 CURRENT SPORTSBOOK LINE
 Team  ML   RUN   O/U 
 ATL  +136   -160   8.5 
 STL  -151   +140   
OFFSHORE LINE MOVEMENTS

 BETTING TRENDS
 Team  ML   RUN   O/U 
 ATL  37%   24%   63% 
 STL  63%   76%   37% 
BT MOVEMENTS

 MLB HEAD TO HEAD
 Jul 28, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 STL 2 Under: 7 
 ATL 5 Cover: +103 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Jul 27, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 STL 0 Under: 2 
 ATL 2 Cover: +100 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Jul 26, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 STL 1 Under: 5 
 ATL 4 Cover: +105 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Mar 14, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 ATL 4 Over: 9 
 STL 5 Cover: +100 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Mar 12, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 STL 3 Over: 15 
 ATL 12 Cover: +100 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Oct 5, 2012  Score  ATS Results 
 STL 6 Cover: +160 
 ATL 3 Over: 9 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps

 MLB PREVIEWS
 Thursday, Aug 22
 
    Diamondbacks at Reds
12:35 PM EDT
    Dodgers at Marlins
12:40 PM EDT
    Twins at Tigers
1:05 PM EDT
    Blue Jays at Yankees
1:05 PM EDT
    Nationals at Cubs
2:20 PM EDT
    Rockies at Phillies
7:05 PM EDT
    White Sox at Royals
8:10 PM EDT
    Braves at Cardinals
8:15 PM EDT
    Pirates at Giants
10:15 PM EDT
 
 
 
  
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