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Cards need to end struggles vs. southpaws

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals' offense has been sluggish through five games of the National League Championship Series, and if this season is any indication, the going won't get any easier. Game 6 is on Friday (7:30 p.m. CT on TBS).

St. Louis is one win away from the World Series, but standing in its way are two left-handers, one among the best pitchers in baseball. The Cardinals -- who hit .238 against lefties compared with .280 against righties during the regular season -- will have to beat either former NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw or rookie southpaw Hyun-Jin Ryu to advance.

The club has gone 20-25 against lefty starters this year, though they have managed three victories against Kershaw, including a 1-0 win in Game 2 of the NLCS. In two regular-season starts against St. Louis this season, Kershaw allowed six earned runs on 13 hits and five walks. Ryu has fared much better; in August, he held the Cards to one unearned run on five hits and no walks with seven strikeouts. In Game 3, he threw seven scoreless innings.

Despite beating Kershaw in Game 2, the Cardinals have hit just .119 (5-for-42) with one run against Ryu and Kershaw in the postseason. St. Louis is batting .178 (29-for-163) in the NLCS, which would be beat the lowest mark by an LCS winner (.183 by Oakland in 1974) if the Cards advance.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for
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