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Preview: Cardinals (10-7) at Pirates (8-9)
BT Movements  ·  Line Movements
Game: 1
Venue: PNC Park
Date: August 30, 2013 7:05 PM EDT
  

The Pittsburgh Pirates grabbed the NL Central lead from St. Louis when the Cardinals visited PNC Park one month ago, taking four of five to set the wheels in motion for a run at their first division title since 1992.

The next 10 days should determine just how realistic that possibility may be.

Now a game behind the Cardinals, the Pirates hope Francisco Liriano can pull them into a first-place tie Friday night as they host St. Louis for the first of critical back-to-back weekend series.

Pittsburgh (77-56) went from 1 1/2 games behind the Cardinals to 1 1/2 up after that five-game series concluded Aug. 1, but St. Louis (78-55) has won 12 of 17 and is back on top after taking two of three from Cincinnati.

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Even with Wednesday's 10-0 loss, Carlos Beltran is feeling good about a lineup that leads the NL in runs, on-base percentage and average with runners in scoring position.

"Right now, with (Matt) Carpenter just having the year that he's having, I'm hitting second and I'm getting on base, Matt Holliday hitting third, getting hot ... (Allen) Craig being able to do it all year round, being able to drive in that many runs, it feels great," Beltran told the Cardinals' official website. "And Yadier Molina, you know, leading the league in hitting. It doesn't get better than that."

Thursday's 4-0 loss to Milwaukee dropped the Pirates to 12-14 this month, including a pair of extra-inning losses in a three-game set at Busch Stadium from Aug. 13-15. Catcher John Buck, who came over along with Marlon Byrd from the Mets on Tuesday, admitted Pittsburgh may have been looking ahead.

"I knew we were playing Milwaukee but we couldn't help but think how exciting the series with the Cardinals is going to be," Buck said. "That's why the Pirates went out and got us, for games like that."

Pittsburgh is 8-5 against St. Louis in 2013, and it should have a good idea where its division hopes stand Sept. 8. Following next weekend's series at Busch Stadium, nine of the Pirates' final 20 games come against teams currently in playoff position. None of the Cardinals' final 19 are against a team that appears to be headed to the postseason.

Even if St. Louis' remaining opponents aren't intimidating, they may not be too excited to see Liriano (14-6, 2.74 ERA) on the hill Friday. The left-hander held the Cardinals to a run and four hits over seven innings in a 9-2 win at PNC on July 29, then went the distance in a 5-1 win in St. Louis on Aug. 14.

"This guy was nasty," Carpenter said after Liriano's second complete game of the season.

He was anything but in his latest start, yielding four runs and nine hits over four innings in a 6-3 loss at San Francisco on Saturday, but Liriano has proven to be an awfully effective stopper. Friday will be his ninth start immediately following a Pirates loss - excluding the first game after the All-Star break - and he's gone 7-1 with a 0.75 ERA.

"From the beginning until now," manager Clint Hurdle told the team's official website, "he's proven things to people that he probably wanted to prove some things to."

Shelby Miller (12-8, 2.90) has proven to have top-of-the-rotation stuff in his first full season in the majors, and his arsenal was on full display Saturday against Atlanta. The Cardinals right-hander held the Braves to a solo homer and two other hits over seven innings in a 6-2 win.

"I thought that's probably about as good as we've seen him in a long time," manager Mike Matheny said. "His stuff was electric and he was in the lower part of the zone.

"He was really locked in, hopefully that's something he can maintain."

Miller was less than sharp when opposing Liriano earlier this month. He matched a season high by giving up five runs - three earned - as Pedro Alvarez and Garrett Jones took him deep.

Lefties are hitting .268 against the rookie, while right-handers are batting .187.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

 SERIES AT A GLANCE
GAME 1
Cardinals at Pirates
Fri, Aug 30 Final 0 to 5
 Boxscores    Recaps
GAME 2
Cardinals at Pirates
Sat, Aug 31 Final 1 to 7
 Boxscores    Recaps
GAME 3
Cardinals at Pirates
Sun, Sep 1 Final 7 to 2
 Boxscores    Recaps

 CURRENT LAS VEGAS LINE
 Team  ML   RUN   O/U 
 STL  +114   -200   7 
 PIT  -124   +170   
LAS VEGAS LINE MOVEMENTS

 CURRENT SPORTSBOOK LINE
 Team  ML   RUN   O/U 
 STL  +119   -190   7 
 PIT  -129   +165   
OFFSHORE LINE MOVEMENTS

 BETTING TRENDS
 Team  ML   RUN   O/U 
 STL  26%   13%   100% 
 PIT  74%   87%   0% 
BT MOVEMENTS

 MLB HEAD TO HEAD
 Aug 15, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 PIT 5 Over: 11 
 STL 6 Cover: +100 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Aug 14, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 PIT 5 Cover: +112 
 STL 1 Under: 6 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Aug 13, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 PIT 3 Push: 7 
 STL 4 Cover: +100 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Aug 1, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 STL 13 Cover: +100 
 PIT 0 Over: 13 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Jul 31, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 STL 4 Over: 9 
 PIT 5 Cover: +104 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Jul 30, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 STL 0 Under: 6 
 PIT 6 Cover: +105 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Jul 30, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 STL 1 Under: 3 
 PIT 2 Cover: +105 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Jul 29, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 STL 2 Over: 11 
 PIT 9 Cover: +100 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Apr 28, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 PIT 9 Cover: +180 
 STL 0 Over: 9 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Apr 27, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 PIT 5 Cover: +100 
 STL 3 Over: 8 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps

 MLB PREVIEWS
 Friday, Aug 30
 
    Phillies at Cubs
2:20 PM EDT
    Indians at Tigers
7:05 PM EDT
    Orioles at Yankees
7:05 PM EDT
    Royals at Blue Jays
7:05 PM EDT
    Mets at Nationals
7:05 PM EDT
    Cardinals at Pirates
7:05 PM EDT
    White Sox at Red Sox
7:10 PM EDT
    Marlins at Braves
7:35 PM EDT
    Twins at Rangers
8:05 PM EDT
    Angels at Brewers
8:10 PM EDT
    Mariners at Astros
8:10 PM EDT
    Reds at Rockies
8:40 PM EDT
    Giants at Diamondbacks
9:40 PM EDT
    Rays at Athletics
10:05 PM EDT
    Padres at Dodgers
10:10 PM EDT
 
 
 
  
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