The Pittsburgh Pirates (40-35) and St. Louis Cardinals (40-36) open up an important three-game National League Central series on Friday night at Busch Stadium, with the first pitch scheduled for 8:15 ET

Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals SP Adam Wainwright has been throwing the ball much better recently

Pittsburgh is one of the hottest teams in baseball, winning 20 of its last 31 games, including a 5-4 road victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday afternoon.  “It was a big win for us,” commented Pirates starting pitcher A.J. Burnett.  The offense came alive in the final two games of the three-game set, scoring 16 runs and collecting 21 hits over that span.  It’s important to note that the club has won nine of its last 10 series.  Pittsburgh is 14-10 divisional foes this year, with the “under” going 13-10 in those contests.

Pirates starting pitcher Kevin Correia (3-6, 4.03 ERA) has watched the club alternate wins and losses over his last four outings, picking up a no-decision in a 3-2 home loss against the Detroit Tigers, giving up two runs and six hits over six frames.  The right-hander has tallied a 2-4 record and 4.64 ERA in eight road outings this year, issuing 16 walks and striking out just 15 over 42.2 combined innings.  In 13 career games (six starts) versus the Cardinals, Correia has gone 2-3 with a 3.86 ERA, including a 1-1 mark and 5.40 ERA in two outings a year ago.

St. Louis finished 6-3 on its recent road trip and was incredible offensively with runners in scoring position, hitting .446 in that situation over the last six games.  The Cardinals did manage to drop their series finale to the Miami Marlins, 5-3, but had plenty of opportunities to strike during that affair.  “We were in great position to take another one,” stated Cardinals manager Mike Matheny.  “We just didn’t get it done out of the bullpen.”  St. Louis is 4-5 after an off day this year, and the “over” is 7-2 in those contests.

Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright (6-7. 4.32 ERA) earned an 8-2 road win over the Kansas City Royals last time out, giving up two runs and six hits over seven frames.  The right-hander has gone 3-4 with a 4.66 ERA in eight home starts this year, issuing 15 walks and collecting 45 strikeouts in 48.1 innings.  In 18 career games (14 starts) versus the Pirates, Wainwright has registered an 8-3 mark and 4.79 ERA, winning five of his last six efforts in the series.

Bettors will likely back the Cardinals due to their 4-0 mark as a favorite, while the Pirates are 3-7 in Correia’s last 10 efforts as an underdog.

Pick:  St. Louis Cardinals -200

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