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Dodgers Face Tall Order Trying To Beat Wainwright Cardinals

(Sports Network) - Adam Wainwright will try to become just the second 14-game winner in the major leagues and remain perfect at home when he leads the St. Louis Cardinals into the third test of a four-game series tonight versus the Los Angeles Dodgers at Busch Stadium.

Colorado Rockies ace and All-Star starter Ubaldo Jimenez leads the big leagues with 15 wins, while Wainwright is second with a 13-5 record and 2.11 earned run average in 19 starts. Wainwright is an All-Star himself and has won three straight and seven of his last nine starts, including an 8-0 win at Houston on July 9. He fired eight scoreless innings and struck out four batters.

The right-hander is 9-0 with a 1.43 ERA in nine home starts and may run into some trouble today versus a Dodgers club that beat him back on June 9 at Chavez Ravine. Wainwright allowed four runs and eight hits in six innings of a 4-3 setback, falling to 2-3 in nine career games (6 starts) against LA.

St. Louis has won three in a row and the first two portions of this series, including Friday's 8-4 triumph behind a two-run homer and four RBI from Yadier Molina. Randy Winn drove in a pair of runs and Felipe Lopez ended 2-for-5 with an RBI for the Cardinals, who are still a half-game behind Cincinnati for the top spot in the NL Central.

"We've done a good job of getting the count in our favor and when the ball's in the strike zone we've been aggressive with it," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "We've done a good job of forcing near the middle of the plate and getting good hacks."

Jaime Garcia started for La Russa's club and did not record a decision after giving up two runs and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings. Kyle McClellan earned the win with 1 2/3 scoreless innings of relief.

The Cardinals will also host Philadelphia for four games after this set.

Los Angeles has lost two straight and three of four games, and sits tied with San Francisco at 3 1/2 games off the NL West lead. In last night's loss to the Cards, Chad Billingsley was roughed up for seven runs and 10 hits in four innings to absorb the loss.

"They put the ball in play, found holes and made things happen," Billingsley said. "It was one of those days."

James Loney had three hits and an RBI, while Rafael Furcal and Matt Kemp both finished with two hits and knocked in a run for LA. Dodgers slugger Manny Ramirez left the game in the first inning because of a calf injury and is listed as day-to-day. Ramirez was just activated from the 15-day disabled list this week due to a hamstring ailment.

Meanwhile, Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda has been struggling for a while and will take the mound Saturday at Busch Stadium. Kuroda is 2-6 with a 4.96 earned run average in his last nine starts and has lost back-to-back trips to the mound.

In a 4-0 loss to Florida on July 7, Kuroda was pounded for four runs and six hits in seven innings, while striking out four batters. The loss evened Kuroda's mark at 7-7 in 17 starts this season and raised his ERA to 3.87.

The Japanese right-hander, who is 4-4 in eight road starts this season, did not factor into the outcome of a 1-0 win over St. Louis on June 8. Kuroda delivered seven shutout frames and six K's for the no-decision that day and is 0-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two career starts in this series.

The Dodgers swept a three-game set at home versus the Cardinals from June 7-9 after losing five of seven to the club last season.