Sports Magazine

Game 133: Pirates at Cardinals

By Kipper @pghsportsforum
The defining series of the rest of the season. Let's GO Bucs!!
Probables: JA Happ (7-7, 4.10) vs. Carlos Martinez (13-6, 2.91)
"Pirates, Cardinals begin crucial NL Central clash
By Jenifer Langosch / | + 4 COMMENTS
Seeking to weaken the stranglehold the Cardinals have in the National League Central, the Pirates will open a critical three-game series between the division rivals at Busch Stadium on Friday.
The Cardinals have sat alone atop the division since April 17 and have held off the pursuant Pirates by building a record that puts them 39 games over .500. The Pirates, who crept as close as 3 1/2 games behind the Cardinals a week ago, slipped to 6 1/2 games back with Thursday night's 5-3 loss in Milwaukee, adding up to their first four-game losing streak since May 13-16. The Cards have won nine of their past 11.
If the Pirates want to give themselves a legitimate chance at keeping the Cardinals from a third straight division title, they'll need to improve their showing at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals have won five of six home games against the Bucs this season, even though they've just barely outscored them, 20-19, in those games.
Carlos Martinez, who dealt with some tightness in his back in his most recent start, will be starting for the Cardinals on eight days' rest. He'll be opposed by J.A. Happ, who has a 1.98 ERA in five starts since joining the Pirates but has a career record of 1-8 against the Cardinals.
Three things to know about this game
• Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay is expected to be activated off the 15-day disabled list before the game. Jay, who has been on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Memphis since Saturday, has been sidelined by a stress reaction in his left wrist since July 1.
• Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco has feasted on Martinez's pitching in the past, going 8-for-11 with three extra-base hits and three walks. He has five hits in eight at-bats against Martinez this season.
• Cardinals rookie outfielder Stephen Piscotty enters with a career-best 10-game hitting streak. He has two home runs and a four-hit contest in that stretch.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs."

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