Pirates Vs. Cardinals: Pittsburgh Begins Key Series Friday

CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 04: James McDonald #53 of the Pittsburgh Pirates throws a pitch during the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on August 4, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The Pittsburgh Pirates begin a three-game series at Busch Stadium on Friday night against the St. Louis Cardinals. The series could have major implications in the NL Central and Wild Card race.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have dropped six of their last eight games, falling to 6.5 games behind the Cincinnati Reds, winners of their last five straight, in the NL Central. The Pirates were able to sneak a series finale win over the Los Angeles Dodger on Friday, and will look to get back to their winning ways for good Friday when they begin a three-game series at Busch Stadium against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The series could prove pivotal, with the Cardinals and Pirates running neck-and-neck in the standings. With September looming, both teams are looking to position themselves well for the Wild Card race, if not a stab at the Reds.

Check out the full series schedule below:

Game 1: Friday, Aug. 17, 8:15 p.m. ET Starting pitchers: James McDonald (10-5, 3.77 ERA) vs. Jake Westbrook (12-8, 3.62)

Game 2: Saturday, Aug. 18, 4:05 p.m. ET Starting pitchers: Erik Bedard (7-12, 4.56 ERA) vs. Lance Lynn (13-5, 3.65)

Game 3: Sunday, Aug. 19, 2:15 p.m. ET Starting pitchers: Jeff Karstens (4-3, 3.91 ERA) vs. Jaime Garcia (3-4, 4.48)

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout and SB Nation Pittsburgh. For more on the Cards, head over to Viva El Birdos and SB Nation St. Louis.

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