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National League Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, July 25th (All times eastern)

Los Angeles Dodgers (53-45) at St. Louis Cardinals (51-46), 8:15 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Los Angeles - Aaron Harang (7-5, 3.46) St. Louis - Kyle Lohse (10-2, 2.71)

(Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Dodgers have made a big move in hopes of bolstering their playoff prospects. It just wasn't the one everyone had expected.

Hours after reportedly acquiring star infielder Hanley Ramirez, the Dodgers take the field against the St. Louis Cardinals tonight as the teams continue a four-game series at Busch Stadium.

Los Angeles had been believed to be in the market for a starting pitcher in the days leading up to the July 31 trade deadline, with Chicago Cubs hurler Ryan Dempster presumed to be the team's top target. The Dodgers instead switched gears and landed the three-time All-Star Ramirez from the Miami Marlins in exchange for rookie pitcher Nathan Eovaldi and minor-league right- hander Scott McGough.

Ramirez, a career shortstop who shifted to third base when the Marlins landed free-agent Jose Reyes in the offseason, is a lifetime .300 hitter who won the 2009 NL batting title. The talented 28-year-old also hit 21 homers or more four times during his seven-year tenure in Miami and has six seasons of at least 20 stolen bases to his credit.

The Dominican slugger has had a down 2012 campaign, however, hitting a career- low .246 with 14 homers and 48 RBI in 93 games.

It's unknown as to whether Ramirez will be available for tonight's contest, in which the Dodgers will face 10-game winner Kyle Lohse.

Lohse has emerged as the ace on a St. Louis staff that also contains injured former Cy Young honoree Chris Carpenter and onetime 20-game winner Adam Wainwright, with the 33-year-old having compiled a stellar 10-2 record and a 2.71 earned run average in 20 starts. He enters this evening's tilt having won his last four decisions and has permitted two runs or less in each of his last six outings.

The right-hander was on his game once again this past Friday, limiting the Chicago Cubs to one run over seven innings to reach double-digit victories for the season. Over his past six starts, Lohse is 4-0 with a 2.16 ERA and held the opposition to a .221 average.

Lohse wasn't overly sharp in a May 20 assignment against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, however, allowing three runs and a season-high 11 hits in a 5 2/3- inning no-decision, and is just 2-3 with a 5.36 ERA in nine career meetings (7 starts) with Los Angeles.

He'll be attempting to back up Wainwright's solid performance on Tuesday, in which the Cardinals' right-hander spun 7 1/3 strong innings to lift his club to an 8-2 triumph and even this series.

Wainwright held the Dodgers to two runs and struck out seven while issuing just one walk as the Cardinals halted a string of eight consecutive defeats to the Dodgers dating back to last season. He received plenty of support from his teammates as well, with St. Louis battering 2011 NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw for eight runs in 5 2/3 innings.

"He pitched a great game. It was nice to see," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Wainwright. "He's fun to watch when he has everything working."

Wainwright helped his own cause at the plate as well, delivering an RBI double in the fifth inning and drawing a bases-loaded walk against Kershaw as part of a six-run sixth that snapped a 2-2 tie.

"If I get Adam Wainwright out [Tuesday] I probably give up maybe one run," said Kershaw, who was tagged for seven hits and walked three before exiting. "It's just frustrating. There were some things that could have been avoided by me."

Ex-Dodger Rafael Furcal went 2-for-4 with three RBI to help St. Louis move to 4-1 on its current seven-game homestand, while Allen Craig added a two-run double during the Cardinals' sixth-inning outburst.

Los Angeles had a five-game winning streak snapped and fell to 2 1/2 games back of first-place San Francisco in the NL West standings. The Dodgers are also just a half-game behind Atlanta and Pittsburgh, the current front-runners for the two Wild Card berths, with St. Louis two back of the leaders in the race.

The Dodgers will hand the ball to Aaron Harang in tonight's bout, with the big right-hander seeking to win a third consecutive decision.

Harang is 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA over that three-start stretch and is coming off a winning effort against the New York Mets on Friday. He worked five innings that night and surrendered three runs, only one of which was earned, and fanned five.

The 34-year-old has not had much success when facing the Cardinals over the course of his career, however. Harang is 7-13 with a 4.47 ERA in 24 lifetime appearances against St. Louis, most of which came during his tenure with the Cincinnati Reds, and has dropped four straight decisions to the Cards. He last bested St. Louis on May 9, 2009 while then a member of the Reds.

The Dodgers swept a three-game series from the Cardinals in Los Angeles from May 18-20 and are 4-1 in their last five trips to Busch Stadium.

07/25 10:37:45 ET