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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The St. Louis Cardinals can move a season-high nine games over .500 when they continue a four-game series against the host Miami Marlins on Friday night.

St. Louis appears to be gearing up for a stretch run, pulling into a tie with Miami for the second wild card in the National League with Thursday’s 5-4 victory.

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The Cardinals improved to 8-3 in their last 11 games by beating Marlins ace Jose Fernandez in the series opener. Rookie shortstop Aledmys Diaz, who played on the same youth team as Fernandez in Cuba, homered, doubled and drove in three runs against his childhood neighbor in their first matchup in the majors. Miami second baseman Dee Gordon, who led the NL in batting last year, was hitless in four at-bats in his return from the lineup following an 80-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki delivered a pinch-hit double Thursday to move within two hits of 3,000.

PITCHING MATCHUP: Cardinals Mike Leake (7-8, 4.24 ERA) vs. Marlins José Urena (1-2, 5.34)

Leake is coming off a brutal start in which he was battered for seven runs and a season-worst 12 hits in a loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He allowed one run in each of his previous two starts, striking out a combined 21 batters over 13 innings. Leake is 5-1 with a 1.33 ERA versus Miami, holding Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Adeiny Hechavarria to a combined 4-for-36.

Urena has acquitted himself well in two starts since he was recalled from Triple-A New Orleans, but has nothing to show for it. The 24-year-old Dominican was a hard-luck loser versus the New York Mets last time out, giving up one run and four hits over six innings. He went 5 2/3 innings in his previous turn at Philadelphia, allowing one run and four hits.

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WALK-OFFS

1. St. Louis has homered in 18 of its last 19 games to push its season total to 140.

2. Marlins 3B Martin Prado is 6-for-11 with a homer, two doubles and four runs scored in the last three games.

3. Cardinals LF Matt Holliday needs two homers to reach 20 in a season for the 10th time.

PREDICTION: Cardinals 5, Marlins 3

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