Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 9/6/12

For all the angst surrounding the St. Louis Cardinals' inability to further cement their position in the wild-card race, consider that their 74-63 record after Thursday's off day is one game better than last year when, on this same weekend, they trailed the Atlanta Braves, who hadn't yet faded, by 7 1/2 games for a wild-card spot.

This year, the Braves again lead the wild-card derby with the Cardinals second, but there are two wild-card berths available. And the Cardinals not only have a 1 1/2-game lead over Pittsburgh and Los Angeles -- they also have something of a schedule advantage.

The Cardinals have to play four games next weekend in Los Angeles but, overall, they have 12 games at home and 13 on the road compared to 12 and 14, respectively, for Pittsburgh and a 10-14 split for Los Angeles.

Both the Cardinals and Dodgers have six games remaining with the top two teams in the league, Washington and Cincinnati, but the Cardinals have all of theirs at home and the Dodgers have all theirs on the road as part of a difficult nine-game trip late in the month.

In addition, the Dodgers have six more games left with National League West leader San Francisco, meaning they have half their remaining games against first-place clubs.

The Pirates have six with Cincinnati and three at home against Atlanta.

The Cardinals have a total of nine against weak sisters Houston (six) and Chicago (three), plus three-game series against second-division teams Milwaukee and San Diego although both those clubs have played much better lately.

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