The Dodgers swept the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley field over the weekend and although it wasn’t always pretty, they continue to add to their lead in the NL West as they now have a 5.5 game lead.

The next stop is Busch Stadium for a four-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals and this will be a great battle between two playoff contending teams.

The Cardinals are currently 65-45 and in second place in the NL Central, but a firm hold on the first Wild Card spot and they took two of three from the Reds over the weekend.

This will be a great test for the Dodgers since the Cardinals are an excellent team and could potentially see them in the playoffs. The Cardinals have a great pitching staff led by their ace Adam Wainwright who is looking to be the first NL pitcher with 14 victories.

Here are three keys to the series:

1. Starting Pitching

The Dodgers starters have been good, but they’ll need to be better to beat a very good Cardinal lineup. The Cardinals are good offensively as they rank third in baseball with 549 runs scored.

Although the bullpen has been more consistent, it’s important to get quality outings out of Hyun-Jin Ryu and Ricky Nolasco especially on the road.

2. Get Offense Going Early

The Dodgers are going to be playing in front a hostile crown in St.Louis and they must take the crowd out of the game early. Getting a couple runs on the board in some early innings will keep the momentum with the Dodgers. Expect Carl Crawford and Yasiel Puig to get things started at the top, but A.J. Ellis and Juan Uribe need to provide support.

3. Stay Healthy

Winning in the regular season is important,but being healthy during the postseason is equally as important and must be a priority from this point forward. The Dodgers got two scares with Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig as they were both injured in the Cubs series.

While Puig is back in the lineup this afternoon, Hanley is said to be doing better. The Dodgers must play smart and minimize their errors as they’ll need all the help to beat the Cardinals.

Prediction: Hanley’s injury is a concern and his bat will be missed if he isn’t able to play in this series.With his playing status up in the air, the Dodgers will win two out of the four games in St. Louis and be content with a split against a very formidable Cardinals team.

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