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Ace-off: Greinke and Wainwright tangle in St. Louis

Chris Capuano has a 6.00 ERA in 18 career games (17 starts) against the Cardinals. And that number worsens when pitching at Busch Stadium, where he has a 7.90 ERA.

In an effort to prevent history from repeating itself, the Dodgers have adjusted their rotation, activating pitcher Stephen Fife, who started Sunday versus the Cubs, giving the rest of the rotation an extra day of rest and bumping Capuano from the Cardinals series. More importantly, it set up a battle of aces in the first of a four-game set at Busch Stadium.

"The timing's right," manager Don Mattingly said. "We can make sure we get Zack [Greinke] and [Clayton Kershaw] an extra day and we line up a little better."

The move pits Greinke against Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright, who will be playing for a National League-best 14th win, on Monday. If he hadn't missed time with a broken collarbone, Greinke might very well be among the NL wins leaders, too. Greinke is 8-3 through 17 starts this season and has allowed more than two runs just once in his last five starts.

Wainwright, named to his second All-Star team ealier this year, has been a rock in the St. Louis rotation. However, he's sporting a 3.68 ERA over his last three outings. It's not bad compared to most pitchers, but it's a full run above his 2.61 ERA this year.

In 12 games (nine starts) against the Dodgers in his career, Wainwright has a solid 3.02 ERA over 62 2/3 innings.

The Cardinals return to St. Louis against the red-hot Dodgers after playing 11 games in 10 days and losing eight of them. The Cards are 32-17 at Busch Stadium, but the Dodgers will roll into St. Louis sporting a 14-game road winning streak.

"We enjoy being home," manager Mike Matheny said. "I don't think we necessarily play any better at home than we do on the road, as far as caliber of play. But there's no doubt that there's an advantage to having guys around their families, sleeping in their own beds and not having a trip like this."

Dodgers: Puig likely to return for St. Louis series
Outfielder Yasiel Puig will likely make his return to the lineup in St. Louis after bruising his left thumb while making a diving catch Saturday. Mattingly said he believes Puig will only miss one or two days with the injury.

"He's better today than we anticipated," Mattingly said. "There's a little soreness, for sure. He wore a brace overnight and it was stiff this morning, but as he got moving it got better."

Matheny is well aware of the impact Puig could have on the series.

"I know there's a lot of buzz about the team he's playing for and the hot start that he's had," Matheny said. "You can't help but watch the highlights. He's making an impact. He's doing a little bit of everything. He's obviously been a catalyst for that team."

Cardinals: Injured Molina showing progress
Matheny has received encouraging reports regarding Yadier Molina's progress as he recovers from a sprained right knee.

"There are days when we push him a little bit and he's aching the next day," Matheny said, "but the concentration has been getting the swelling out and getting him healed."

The All-Star catcher landed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday along with outfielder Shane Robinson and neither have begun baseball activities yet. Molina has received treatment on his knee and has done minor exercises.

Worth noting
• Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez exited in the seventh inning on Sunday with a jammed right shoulder. Ramirez had surgery on his left shoulder in 2011.

• The Cardinals started the 11-game road stretch by scoring just 10 runs in seven straight losses, but have since put up a double-digit run differential, scoring at least 13 in three of their last four games, their only three wins of the trip.

• With Puig's thumb injury not considered serious, the Dodgers optioned Scott Van Slyke to Triple-A Albuquerque on Sunday to make room for Fife.

"Scott's swinging the bat well, but we're going to face only one left-hander in the next 16 days," Mattingly said. "One thing we have seen from Scott, when he sits six or seven or eight days, that doesn't do us a lot of good. He had good at-bats here and he's going to end up being a valuable piece, but right now this makes the most sense."

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