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Preview: Nationals (10-7) at Cardinals (10-7)
BT Movements  ·  Line Movements
Game: 3
Venue: Busch Stadium
Date: September 25, 2013 1:45 PM EDT
  

A brilliant effort from a rookie pitcher moved the St. Louis Cardinals closer to an NL Central title.

Shelby Miller is now getting his chance, but Jordan Zimmermann is looking to become a 20-game winner.

Miller will try to follow a superb performance from Michael Wacha and help the Cardinals take another step toward a division title Wednesday against the Washington Nationals.

Wacha came within an out of throwing a no-hitter Tuesday, allowing an infield single to Ryan Zimmerman before exiting the 2-0 victory.

"For a kid to do that against a lineup like that, at this point in the season, it's hard to get your head around it," manager Mike Matheny said.

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Matheny's team is chasing its first division crown since 2009, sitting two games ahead of Pittsburgh and three in front of Cincinnati with four to play.

All three teams have clinched at least a wild-card spot, while St. Louis' magic number in the division race is three.

In an effort to reduce that number further, the Cardinals (93-65) will start another impressive rookie in Miller (14-9, 3.12 ERA).

The right-hander is 2-0 with a 3.09 ERA in his last four starts. He's been even better in his last three at home, winning each while posting 0.96 ERA.

Miller, though, wasn't close to being that sharp Friday, yielding four runs in six innings of a 7-6 win in 10 at Milwaukee.

Miller allowed two unearned runs and three hits with eight strikeouts over 6 2-3 innings in a 3-2 road win against the Nationals (84-74) on April 22.

With wins in the first five meetings against Washington this year, St. Louis is on the brink of sweeping a season series of at least six games for the first time since going 7-0 against the Dodgers in 2006.

Cardinals pitchers have limited the Nationals to seven runs and 24 hits in those five games, walking eight and striking out 42.

Another win in the season series won't be easy with Zimmermann (19-8, 3.18) on the mound.

The right-hander is bidding to join Gio Gonzalez (2012) and Ross Grimsley (1978) as the only 20-game winners in franchise history.

Reaching that milestone would mean beating the Cardinals for the first time. He's 0-3 with a 9.40 ERA in six starts against them, including two in last year's division series, which Washington lost in five games.

Zimmermann has been superb of late, winning all four of his starts this month behind a 2.25 ERA.

He turned in his best performance of that stretch Friday, tossing a two-hitter with nine strikeouts in an 8-0 victory over Miami.

Now, Zimmermann will make his final scheduled start of the year despite dealing with a stiff neck that has finally subsided.

He has personal highs in wins, innings (206 1-3) and strikeouts (159), while his 1.10 WHIP is his lowest.

"It's actually fun waking up the morning," Zimmermann said, "knowing there's not going to be any pain in your neck."

Yadier Molina is 7 for 13 versus Zimmermann, including playoffs. He's 6 for 12 with a homer and three RBIs in his last three home games.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

 SERIES AT A GLANCE
GAME 1
Nationals at Cardinals
Mon, Sep 23 Final 3 to 4
 Boxscores    Recaps
GAME 2
Nationals at Cardinals
Tue, Sep 24 Final 0 to 2
 Boxscores    Recaps
GAME 3
Nationals at Cardinals
Wed, Sep 25 Final 1 to 4
 Boxscores    Recaps

 CURRENT LAS VEGAS LINE
 Team  ML   RUN   O/U 
 WAS  +108   -210   7.5 
 STL  -118   +175   
LAS VEGAS LINE MOVEMENTS

 CURRENT SPORTSBOOK LINE
 Team  ML   RUN   O/U 
 WAS  +110   -200   7.5 
 STL  -120   +170   
OFFSHORE LINE MOVEMENTS

 BETTING TRENDS
 Team  ML   RUN   O/U 
 WAS  47%   19%   50% 
 STL  53%   81%   50% 
BT MOVEMENTS

 MLB HEAD TO HEAD
 Sep 24, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 WAS 0 Under: 2 
 STL 2 Cover: +100 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Sep 23, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 WAS 3 Push: 7 
 STL 4 Cover: +100 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Apr 24, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 STL 4 Cover: +145 
 WAS 2 Under: 6 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Apr 23, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 STL 2 Cover: +100 
 WAS 0 Under: 2 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Apr 22, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 STL 3 Cover: +100 
 WAS 2 Under: 5 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Mar 15, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 WAS 1 Over: 6 
 STL 5 Cover: +100 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Mar 8, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 STL 16 Cover: +135 
 WAS 10 Over: 26 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Mar 3, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 STL 6 Over: 13 
 WAS 7 Cover: +100 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Mar 2, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 WAS 6 Cover: +115 
 STL 2 Over: 8 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Oct 12, 2012  Score  ATS Results 
 STL 9 Cover: +118 
 WAS 7 Over: 16 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps

 MLB PREVIEWS
 Wednesday, Sep 25
 
    Mets at Reds
12:35 PM EDT
    Nationals at Cardinals
1:45 PM EDT
    Pirates at Cubs
2:20 PM EDT
    Athletics at Angels
3:35 PM EDT
    Blue Jays at Orioles
7:05 PM EDT
    Rays at Yankees
7:05 PM EDT
    White Sox at Indians
7:05 PM EDT
    Brewers at Braves
7:10 PM EDT
    Phillies at Marlins
7:10 PM EDT
    Astros at Rangers
8:05 PM EDT
    Tigers at Twins
8:10 PM EDT
    Red Sox at Rockies
8:40 PM EDT
    Royals at Mariners
10:10 PM EDT
    Diamondbacks at Padres
10:10 PM EDT
    Dodgers at Giants
10:15 PM EDT
 
 
 
  
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