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Series preview: Cardinals at Nationals

Series preview: Cardinals at Nationals

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SCOUTING REPORT • The Nationals held the Cardinals to six runs in a three-game sweep in St. Louis four weeks ago. Washington’s 2.86 team earned run average is the second best in the majors behind only the Chicago Cubs, and the Nats are first in strikeouts at 444 for 47 games, an average of 9.34 per nine innings.

An already good lineup has been accentuated by the addition of league-leading hitter Daniel Murphy, signed as a free agent in the offseason. Murphy has a major-league-high 24 multi-hit games and an MLB-best .394 average. ... Bryce Harper, the 2015 National League Most Valuable Player, was held hitless in 11 at-bats during the three-game series in St. Louis. His average has dropped to .245.

As a counter to the Cardinals’ league-leading nine pinch homers, the Nationals have the active leader in pinch homers at 14 in Chris Heisey. ... While the Cardinals have been under .500 at home, they have a winning record on the road at 11-8. ... Among Washington hitters, Jayson Werth has had the most success against Mike Leake, who will start Thursday. Werth is seven for 21 with a home run.

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Thursday, 6:05 p.m.: RH Mike Leake (3-3, 4.07 ERA) vs. RH Joe Ross (3-4, 2.70).

Friday, 6:05 p.m.: LH Jaime Garcia (3-4, 3.59) vs. RH Max Scherzer (5-3, 3.80).

Saturday, 6:15 p.m.: RH Adam Wainwright (4-3, 5.77 ERA) vs. LH Gio Gonzalez (3-2, 2.87).

Sunday, 12:35 p.m.: RH Michael Wacha (2-5, 5.04) vs. RH Stephen Strasburg (8-0, 2.79).

St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs

Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant scores on a single by Ben Zobrist during the May 25 game against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

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