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STL@LAD: Westbrook fans five over 6 1/3 innings

The Phillies' 2011 playoff run ended quickly last October with a National League Division Series loss to the eventual World Series champion Cardinals. For the first time this season, those two clubs will face off when a four-game series at Busch Stadium commences on Thursday.

Jake Westbrook (4-3, 2.41 ERA) and Joe Blanton (4-4, 3.74) will square off in the series opener, with both pitchers looking to get back into the win column after rough last outings.

Philadelphia, which is still without injured stars Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, has struggled its way to a 22-23 record and is in last place in the NL East. However, the Phillies departed the City of Brotherly Love with a 4-1 win against the Nationals on Wednesday, snapping a season-worst four-game losing streak.

Outfielder Juan Pierre said it was good to close out the homestand with a win before going on a seven-game road trip, during which they will play the Cardinals and the Mets.

"We're two months deep now. You can't say 'It's early, it's early, it's early,'" Pierre said. "It's time to start playing better ball. It's a big road trip for us. St. Louis, defending champions -- I know they've got history from last year -- and going to New York. So we just try to take it one game at a time, as cliche as that sounds. But it's definitely time to start playing better ball."

The Cardinals also enter the series on a winning streak, having just swept the Padres. They beat San Diego, 6-3, in Wednesday's series finale.

St. Louis sits in first place in the NL Central, albeit barely. The Cardinals are 25-19, a half-game ahead of the Reds.

Though they are in first place, the Cardinals are battling through injuries. They have six players on the disabled list.

"That's not a coincidence with a tough string of games, tough trips, tough travel," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We're not expecting sympathy from anybody, but the reality of it is that bodies break down when you try to put them through things that are hard for the body to [recuperate] from. That's just part of the game. So we just keep going, see who's next."

Cardinals: Utility man Carpenter lands on DL
On Wednesday, Matt Carpenter was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right oblique strain, making him the fifth Cardinal in the last eight days to go on the DL. Carpenter, a corner infielder/right fielder, was batting .288 with three home runs and 20 RBIs.

Lance Berkman, Allen Craig, Jon Jay, Scott Linebrink and Kyle McClellan have all gone on the DL since May 16. Chris Carpenter was shelved on May 12.

Mike Carpenter's replacement is Steven Hill, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Memphis. Hill can play catcher, first base and the outfield.

Phillies: No fireworks in Hamels-Harper Round 2
On Wednesday, Cole Hamels faced Bryce Harper for the first time since intentionally hitting the Nationals' rookie outfielder with a fastball in a May 6 Phillies win at Nationals Park.

There didn't seem to be any animosity between the clubs in Wednesday's game, and no one was hit by any pitches.

Harper went 1-for-3 with a walk against Hamels, who earned his seventh win with eight shutout innings of work.

"It wasn't even in the back of my mind," Hamels said of the May 6 incident.

Worth noting
• Jimmy Rollins is expected to rejoin the Phillies in St. Louis on Thursday. Rollins missed all three games against the Nationals after his wife, Johari, gave birth to the couple's first child, Camryn Drew Rollins, late on Sunday night. Rollins was placed on paternity leave on Tuesday. With his return, Erik Kratz has been optioned back to Triple A-Lehigh Valley.

• On Thursday morning, Berkman is scheduled to have surgery on his right knee. It will determine whether the Cardinals' first baseman will require surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament in addition to the scope he will have to repair his torn meniscus. If his ACL has been torn or compromised, Berkman will miss the remainder of this season. The veteran was hitting .333 with a home run and four RBIs in 13 games before the injury. Comments