Redbirds ace gets feathers ruffled

Monday, September 19, 2005

Chris Carpenter had words with the Cubs manager during Sunday's 7-4 loss to Chicago.

CHICAGO -- Dusty Baker complimented Chris Carpenter last week, then cursed at him Sunday.

The Cubs manager and Cardinals ace got into a shouting match during Chicago's 7-4 victory, adding more friction to one of baseball's most bitter rivalries.

In the second inning, Carpenter walked from home plate toward the dugout to confront Baker, and an argument followed. Baker thought it stemmed from a series in St. Louis this month, when a Cardinals hitter told one of the Cubs that a Chicago pitcher stared him down whenever he got a hit -- and he didn't like it.

"Then Carpenter was doing the same thing to Nomar (Garciaparra) after he got that hit and after he punched out (Matt) Murton. So I asked him, 'What are you looking at? Why are you staring at the guy?"' Baker said. "Then when he went to back up home plate and he came over to our dugout and said, 'If you got something to say to me, then, you know, come to the mound.' That's when I got a little (teed) off and that's when I cursed.

"Maybe I shouldn't have cursed. I had just given him the highest compliment last week when I said he's one of the pitchers I respect most in the league, because he doesn't clown, he doesn't showboat. He just pitches."

Carpenter declined to comment, as did St. Louis manager Tony La Russa, who has had confrontations with Baker in the past.

After the argument, there was no further trouble between the teams.

Carlos Zambrano won his career-best sixth consecutive decision, allowing 10 hits in a complete game. Murton and Todd Walker homered for the Cubs.

Murton hit his fifth homer in the sixth to break a 4-all tie, leading off the inning against Anthony Reyes (1-1) with a shot to center. Walker led off the seventh against Cal Eldred with his 12th homer.

The Cubs scored four times in the second off Carpenter, a leading contender for the NL Cy Young Award who is tied for the major league lead with 21 wins. The Cardinals already clinched the NL Central title, so the right-hander departed early after a four-inning tuneup.

"I think that I wasn't going to throw many pitches today," Carpenter said.

Zambrano (14-5) gave up two earned runs and threw 126 pitches in his sixth career complete game. He walked one and struck out one.

He was two outs from finishing it when Baker came to the mound with two runners on.

"He told me basically this is your ballgame and the ball is in your hand," Zambrano said.

Baker wasn't looking to pull his pitcher.

"He didn't talk me out of it," the manager said. "I really didn't have my mind made up when I went out there. I kind of wanted to see his expression, his face. He said he felt good, that he wanted to finish it and that is what you like to hear."

The right-hander is 6-0 with a 2.85 ERA in eight starts since losing 6-1 to the New York Mets on Aug. 7. He left that game after three innings because of tightness in his lower back.

Zambrano's other complete game this year was a 2-1 victory over Philadelphia on May 8. He has dominated the Cardinals all season, going 3-0 with a 1.10 ERA.

"I really wasn't looking to strike people out," Zambrano said. "I was looking to get groundballs."

Zambrano also went 2-for-4 at the plate with his sixth double of the season, raising his batting average to .303.

Down 4-1, the Cardinals scored three runs in the fifth. Yadier Molina had an RBI single and Skip Schumaker reached on Garciaparra's error at third base. Molina scored on David Eckstein's grounder, and So Taguchi added an RBI double.

The Cubs scored four runs in the second to take the lead. Carpenter gave up only three runs to Chicago in three previous starts this season.

Carpenter gave up a single to Garciaparra and hit Jeromy Burnitz with a pitch. Carpenter struck out Murton, but after Corey Patterson's RBI double scored Garciaparra, things got testy between Baker and Carpenter. Umpires and teammates led Carpenter away. He wasn't the same afterward, immediately giving up a two-run single to Henry Blanco and a single to Zambrano. Neifi Perez added a sacrifice fly.

"I didn't make very many good pitches in the second inning," Carpenter said.

He gave up four runs and four hits, throwing only 60 pitches.

John Rodriguez hit his fifth homer leading off the second for St. Louis.

Burnitz had a sacrifice fly in the seventh.

Notes: The Cardinals made two lineup changes just before the game, starting Taguchi over Jim Edmonds in center field and John Mabry over Larry Walker in right. Rodriguez started in left. ... The Cubs won the season series 10-6, going 5-3 at each park and winning each series for the first time since 1995.

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