Once again, Cardinals 6 games above .500

ST. LOUIS (AP) - The defending World Series champs have some work to do.

The St. Louis Cardinals are 46-40 and in third place in the NL Central headed into the second half of the season. Yet St. Louis is just 2 ½ games behind the surprising Pirates heading into a three-game series at second-place Cincinnati that starts on Friday night.

Co-ace Chris Carpenter is out for the year with a nerve injury to his shoulder, but the Cardinals are about to get Lance Berkman back from knee surgery and left-hander Jaime Garcia is expected to rejoin the rotation next month.

St. Louis hasn't had a problem making up for the production of Albert Pujols, now with the Angels. But they have an inconsistent bullpen and have been shut out six times.