Carpenter wins his 10th straight decision

Friday, September 4, 2009

ST. LOUIS -- Not much went smoothly for Chris Carpenter, who labored through six innings, got hit by a pitch on the left thumb and flubbed a bunt attempt.

Flawed but gritty was good enough to win his 10th straight decision, especially with a five-run cushion after the second. Skip Schumaker was 4 for 4 with two RBIs, pacing a 16-hit attack as the St. Louis Cardinals clobbered the Milwaukee Brewers 10-3 on Wednesday night.

"It was definitely a strange night, and it wasn't very clean on my part," Carpenter said. "It was good enough to win, and I'll take it."

Yadier Molina had a pair of RBI doubles and finished with three hits for the NL Central leaders, whose 10 1/2-game lead is the best in baseball. Troy Glaus, activated from the 60-day disabled list from a shoulder injury Monday, struck out as a pinch hitter to end the sixth in his first at-bat of the season.

The Brewers had runners in scoring position every inning except the sixth, when Carpenter (15-3) retired the side in order in his final inning.

"I don't think he was at his sharpest," Brewers manager Ken Macha said. "But the sign of a good pitcher is when he's not sharp and he's able to give the innings and hold the other team down."

The St. Louis offense made those struggles a moot point, punishing Dave Bush (3-6) and the Milwaukee bullpen. The Cardinals have scored 17 runs in two games and go for a sweep behind John Smoltz today.

The Cardinals are 31-4 since July 1 in starts by their big three of Carpenter, Adam Wainwright (16-7) and Joel Pineiro (14-9), and are season-best 24 games above .500. Although shy of his best stuff for the second straight start despite an extra day of rest, Carpenter is 10-0 with a 2.17 ERA in his last 12 outings and leads the majors with a 2.28 ERA.

"My command wasn't fabulous," Carpenter said. "But I don't believe you're going to be perfect every night."

Casey McGehee had two hits and RBIs and has six RBIs in the first two games of the series for Milwaukee. Frank Catalanotto singled three times.

The Cardinals, swept in a three-game series at home by Milwaukee in mid-May when the Brewers were 10 games above .500 and in first place in the Central, have taken six of the last seven in the season series. They were contending for the league's best record, not that manager Tony La Russa cared.

"It's a sign of a potential distraction for this team," La Russa said. "We need to crank out series and try to get to the finish line, and whatever the number turns out to be, it turns out to be."

Bush lasted only 3 1/3 innings and allowed eight runs in his second start coming off a triceps injury from getting struck by a line drive, an injury that sidelined him for two months. Both of his post-injury starts have been messy and the right-hander is 0-6 with a 10.50 ERA in eight starts since his last victory on May 19 at Houston.

Bush hit two batters, including Carpenter while attempting to sacrifice in the second, and leads the majors with 12 hit batsmen in only 89 innings.

"I'm having a hard time kind of putting it all together," Bush said. "Hitting the pitcher kind of put me behind the eight ball."

The Cardinals left the bases loaded in the first when Bush got Mark DeRosa on a flyout, then got untracked with six runs on six hits in the second. Pujols had a two-run opposite-field double on a pop fly down the right field line that eluded Catalanotto and Schumaker had a two-run opposite-field single.

Carpenter is 9-0 with a 1.99 ERA against the Central this season and 35-12 for his career. However, it was his first victory over the Brewers since April 27, 2005, evening his career record against Milwaukee to 3-3.

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