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Preview: Cardinals (70-61) at Nationals (74-57)
BT Movements  ·  Line Movements
Game: 1
Venue: Nationals Park
Date: April 17, 2014 7:05 PM EDT
  

Even with Bryce Harper in the lineup, the Washington Nationals have struggled to beat the St. Louis Cardinals of late.

Avoiding an eighth consecutive regular-season loss to the visiting Cardinals might remain tough despite the hobbled Harper's expected return in Thursday night's series opener.

Batting .520 (13 for 25) in his last seven games, Harper was scratched from the lineup before Wednesday's 6-3 win over Miami because of tightness in his left quad. The star outfielder has been dealing with the injury since Friday and also left Monday's 9-2 victory over the Marlins when he slipped running the bases in the seventh inning.

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"I decided to get him out of there, give him a day just to calm it down a little bit," manager Matt Williams said. "I expect him to be in there Thursday."

Harper went 11 for 25 (.440) in his first six regular season games versus St. Louis (9-6), but is hitting .217 (5 for 23) during Washington's seven-game series slide in which it's totaled 12 runs.

"Every game's different in that respect, but we have to play well if we're going to challenge (the Cardinals) or beat them," Williams told the Nationals' official website. "If we ever want to get to where we want to get to, it's through those guys. It's presented to you every day. What are you going to do with it?"

Harper was 3 for 23 with a homer and eight strikeouts while the Nationals lost to the Cardinals in five games in the 2012 NL division series.

However, he's 6 for 11 with two doubles during the regular season against scheduled Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright (2-1, 2.57 ERA). The right-hander has a 1.69 ERA while winning three consecutive regular-season starts versus Washington (9-6).

After giving up two runs and eight hits to split his first two starts, Wainwright yielded four runs on seven hits while striking out eight without a walk in Saturday's 10-4 win over the Chicago Cubs. He lasted seven innings for the third straight outing.

"Instead of being just off the plate, I was just on the plate and usually I'm going to be a little more on the corners," Wainwright told the Cardinals' official website.

He'll try to help St. Louis bounce back after its four-game winning streak ended with a 5-1 loss at Milwaukee on Wednesday. The Cardinals outscored their previous four opponents 26-9, but even with nine hits they managed only an Allen Craig homer in the sixth in the series finale.

Yadier Molina had two hits and is batting .452 (14 for 31) in his last eight games for St. Louis. Though he's 4 for 14 in his last four versus Washington, he drove in six runs during that span.

Scheduled Nationals starter Taylor Jordan (0-1, 4.76), making his first appearance against the Cardinals, will try to bounce back after allowing five runs and 10 hits in five innings of a 6-3 loss at Atlanta on Saturday.

Jayson Werth hit a three-run homer off Marlins ace Jose Fernandez on Wednesday to help Washington overcome a 3-0 hole and take two of three in the series.

"We have the ability to come back because guys grind at_bats and never give up," Williams said.

Werth is 5 for 23 with seven strikeouts during the regular season versus Wainwright, but two of those hits were home runs.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

 SERIES AT A GLANCE
GAME 1
Cardinals at Nationals
Thu, Apr 17 Final 8 to 0
 Boxscores    Recaps
GAME 2
Cardinals at Nationals
Fri, Apr 18 Final 1 to 3
 Boxscores    Recaps
GAME 3
Cardinals at Nationals
Sat, Apr 19 Final 4 to 3
 Boxscores    Recaps
GAME 4
Cardinals at Nationals
Sun, Apr 20 Final 2 to 3
 Boxscores    Recaps

 CURRENT LAS VEGAS LINE
 Team  ML   RUN   O/U 
 STL  -140   +125   6.5 
 WAS  +130   -145   
LAS VEGAS LINE MOVEMENTS

 CURRENT SPORTSBOOK LINE
 Team  ML   RUN   O/U 
 STL  -136   +120   6.5 
 WAS  +126   -140   
OFFSHORE LINE MOVEMENTS

 BETTING TRENDS
 Team  ML   RUN   O/U 
 STL  56%   78%   70% 
 WAS  44%   22%   30% 
BT MOVEMENTS

 MLB HEAD TO HEAD
 Mar 26, 2014  Score  ATS Results 
 WAS 2 Over: 5 
 STL 3 Cover: +100 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Mar 21, 2014  Score  ATS Results 
 WAS 0 Over: 2 
 STL 2 Cover: +100 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Mar 9, 2014  Score  ATS Results 
 STL 1 Over: 12 
 WAS 11 Cover: +100 
 Tools:   Recaps

 MLB PREVIEWS
 Thursday, Apr 17
 
    Indians at Tigers
1:05 PM EDT
    Braves at Phillies
1:05 PM EDT
    Blue Jays at Twins
1:10 PM EDT
    Mariners at Rangers
2:05 PM EDT
    Dodgers at Giants
3:45 PM EDT
    Rockies at Padres
6:40 PM EDT
    Cardinals at Nationals
7:05 PM EDT
    Brewers at Pirates
7:05 PM EDT
    Yankees at Rays
7:10 PM EDT
    Red Sox at White Sox
8:10 PM EDT
    Royals at Astros
8:10 PM EDT
 
 
 
  
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