for this game

Reds, Cardinals set for showdown at Busch Stadium

Apr 24, 2011 - 3:48 PM (Sports Network) - The top two teams in the National League Central Division meet again to determine who'll exit the weekend in first place when the Cincinnati Reds battle the St. Louis Cardinals in the finale of a three-game set tonight at Busch Stadium.

The Cardinals, who finished second to the Reds in the division race last season, were a game up on Cincinnati after a win in Friday's opener. The Reds pulled even with a 5-3 win in Saturday's middle game.

Jay Bruce's bases-loaded walk keyed a three-run eighth inning as Cincinnati got past St. Louis, 5-3. Miguel Cairo added a two-run hit in the deciding frame and Joey Votto hit a two-run homer for the Reds.

Aroldis Chapman (1-0) recorded the final outs in the seventh to win in relief of Travis Wood. Cincinnati's starter allowed eight hits and three runs while fanning five over 6 1/3 innings.

Albert Pujols hit a solo shot and David Freese added two hits with an RBI for the Cardinals, who had won three in a row.

Miguel Batista (1-1) took the loss, as he was charged with three unearned runs in two-thirds of an inning. Chris Carpenter made his 300th career start and yielded two runs on two hits with six strikeouts and three walks over six full frames.

The Reds and Cardinals enter the day a half-game ahead of Milwaukee and the Chicago Cubs in the Central.

The visitors are expected to start 26-year-old righty Sam LeCure, who'll begin a game for the 10th time in his 20th career big-league appearance.

He got no-decisions in a relief appearance and two starts to begin the season, then dropped a 5-4 verdict to Arizona on April 19 after allowing nine hits and five runs in 5 1/3 innings.

LeCure dropped his lone career start against the Cardinals after allowing six hits and three runs in 5 1/3 innings.

The Reds are 2-2 in his four 2011 appearances, but could opt to go with Edinson Volquez for tonight. Volquez was slated to start on Friday, but a rain delay spoiled that opportunity. Wood got the nod on Saturday.

"It's question mark vs. Westbrook," Reds manager Dusty Baker said on the team's website in regards to who will get the nod between LeCure and Volquez.

St. Louis goes with righty Jake Westbrook, who tries to rebound from a seven- run shelling in an April 20 start against Washington.

The 33-year-old was 1-1 with a no-decision in his initial three starts this season before the Nationals touched him for seven hits and seven runs in three innings of an 8-6 loss.

Westbrook, who won 10 games while splitting last season between Cleveland and the Cardinals, is 1-1 in five career meetings with the Reds - with a 3.86 earned run average in 25 2/3 innings.

St. Louis won last season's series, 12-6.