Sportsbook.com Line/Total: Philadelphia -135, St. Louis +125/7.5 under -120
The best team in the National League travels to St. Louis on Monday to take on the Cardinals. The Phillies split the eight meetings they had with St. Louis last season.
Philly enters the two-game series at Busch Stadium on a two-game losing streak and a 4-5 record in its past nine games. Cliff Lee (2-3, 3.78 ERA) will take the mound for Philadelphia. He has gotten five total runs of support while he has been in the game (33 IP) in his past five starts, going 0-2 with a 3.55 ERA, 38 K’s and just five walks. He also had a five-game stretch without a victory last season for Texas, but hasn't made six consecutive winless starts since a nine-game drought in 2004 with Cleveland. He is 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA and .196 opponents’ BA in his two career starts against the Cardinals. The Phillies offense, missing Chase Utley all season and now Shane Victorino (hamstring) for the next few days, has been struggling recently. They’ve managed just 16 runs while batting .193 with 37 strikeouts in losing three of five.
The Cardinals come home struggling as well, as they were swept by the Reds over the weekend. They have lost four of their past five games, giving up 33 runs in the four defeats. St. Louis has played its past six games without manager Tony La Russa, who is recovering from a painful bout with shingles. He had originally targeted a return date of Monday, but it is uncertain if he'll be back. Jake Westbrook (2-3, 6.92 ERA) starts for St. Louis. Westbrook took a step back in his last start, yielding five runs on six hits in a season-low 2.1 innings of an 11-4 loss to the Cubs on Wednesday. He was coming off three straight strong outings in which he posted a 2.45 ERA, which was quite an improvement from his 9.82 ERA in his first four games. This is Westbrook’s second career start against the Phillies. He gave up four runs in five innings of Philadelphia's 7-6 comeback win over Cleveland on June 23. Albert Pujols suffered a bruised wrist after getting hit in the ninth inning of Sunday’s loss at Cincinnati, but should be fine to play on Monday. He is hitting .250 with two RBI in his past five games, and has posted a .152 average with two homers and five RBI in his past nine home contests against the Phillies.
If the Phillies are struggling offensively, then Jake Westbrook should be a perfect solution for them. Ryan Howard, who was born in St. Louis and went to Missouri State, hit .412 with a homer, two doubles and two RBI in four games at Busch Stadium last season. In 21 career games at Busch, Howard is batting .388 -- his highest mark at an NL park -- with eight home runs, 31 RBI and a .520 on-base percentage.