In a repeat performance of the 2009 NLDS, the Los Angeles Dodgers out-hit the St. Louis Cardinals in a three-game sweep at home. 

The very same factors that led to the September playoff pounding—an aggressive one-two in Andre Ethier and Manny Ramirez, and a lack of response in Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday—not only kept the Cardinals from West Coast redemption, but also kept them from keeping their lead of the NL Central. 

Pujols and Holliday hit one single each in the entire series.  Additionally unsettling for Cardinal fans, young hitters David Freese and Colby Rasmus, who earned the NL Player of the Week award last week, played very little.  Freese had a few unsuccessful pinch-hitting appearances; Rasmus did not play at all because of a strained calf. 

Fortunately for the Cards, the sweep is nothing detrimental. 

The Redbirds are one game behind the Cincinnati Reds, and the better part of the season is still in front of them.

The Cards do, however, have an important issue to deal with:

Where is Brad Penny?

Although he had a losing record before his injury, Penny was a promising pitcher for the Cardinals—certainly a lot better than the $9.2 million waste in Kyle Lohse. 

The timeline for Penny’s return has been just about as cohesive as the timeline for the repair and cleanup of the Gulf Coast oil spill. 

As soon as Penny returns, Cardinal fans can stop writing off every fourth game as a loss.

Jaime Garcia will start Friday against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field.  There, the Cardinals will look to shake off their losses to the Dodgers.  

Can the Cardinals come back from losing hard to a division-leading team on the road?  It’s hard to say, but a sweep of the pitching-weak Diamondbacks would certainly diminish the blow.

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