The St. Louis Cardinals are focused on defending their World Series title, but first they must earn their first playoff berth under manager Mike Matheny.
Having experienced the thrill of winning a division crown just two years ago, the Cincinnati Reds are also intent on making up a small deficit in the NL Central.
The Cardinals and Reds will continue their respective drives for the postseason when they open a three-game series and the season's second half Friday night in Cincinnati.
St. Louis (46-40) enters the second half 2 12 games behind Pittsburgh for the NL Central lead, and one-half game behind Cincinnati (47-38) and Atlanta for the wild card spots.
The Cardinals might get some help on their six-game road trip if Lance Berkman returns from the disabled list as expected. A knee injury has kept the first baseman - who also spent time on the DL earlier this season due to a calf strain - out of the lineup since May 19.
"It just doesn't seem like we've even hit our stride yet," Mat...