Carpenter nails Cubs

Friday, April 22, 2005

ST. LOUIS -- Chris Carpenter is 5-1 against the Chicago Cubs since the start of the 2004 season. Apparently, familiarity isn't helping the opposition.

"It's all about pitching," Carpenter said Thursday after throwing a seven-hitter in the St. Louis Cardinals' 4-0 victory. "Hitting is hard. If you make good pitches that aren't elevated in the zone and keep people off-balance, you're going to have success."

Scott Rolen homered, hit his 300th career double and had three RBIs for St. Louis. Rolen, the cleanup hitter most of the season, was moved down to fifth for only the second time, and his big day raised his average to only .228.

"My last at-bat I was able to relax a little bit," Rolen said. "Not until you relax do you realize how much you're pressing."

The Cardinals, who broke open a one-run game in the eighth inning on homers by Larry Walker and Rolen, are 32-10 at home against the Cubs during the last six seasons and denied them a sweep of a two-game series.

Chicago, which learned before the game that shortstop Nomar Garciaparra would be out two to three months because of a torn groin, hasn't had a sweep in St. Louis since 1988.

"That's tough for us, regardless of what he's hitting," pitcher Ryan Dempster said of Garciaparra's injury. "Anytime you lose a guy like that, it's huge."

Carpenter (3-1) struck out six and walked one in his sixth career shutout and his first since Sept. 4, 2001, against the New York Yankees. It was his 14th career complete game and first since last Aug. 26 at Cincinnati, and it was also his first nine-inning complete game since 2001.

Chicago had two runners on in an inning three times, but Carpenter, who also retired 11 in a row at one point early in the game, kept escaping.

"They have quality guys over there, you've got quality guys everywhere in this league, and I've got to go out and make quality pitches," Carpenter said.

Chicago's best shot came in the sixth when catcher's interference on an apparent inning-ending double-play ball by Corey Patterson put runners on first and second. They moved up on a wild pitch, but Carpenter struck out Aramis Ramirez and retired Jeromy Burnitz on a soft liner to center.

"There's no room for anything," manager Tony La Russa said. "But he's just tough as nails, and he made good pitches to keep them from having something going."

The Cubs also had runners on first and second in the first inning before Ramirez grounded into an inning-ending double play. Chicago stranded runners on second and third in the fifth.

Dempster (1-3) allowed one run and four hits in six innings for the Cubs, and one of his three walks was costly. Walker walked to start the fourth, and Jim Edmonds reached on a one-out infield hit that Ramirez knocked down at third with a dive but couldn't turn into an out. Rolen then doubled down the left-field line.

"Sometimes you get outpitched," Dempster said. "He threw well against us last year and he starts the year with a shutout against us this year. That's the way it goes sometimes."

It's the second time in four starts Dempster left a game trailing 1-0.

"Ryan threw the ball great," manager Dusty Baker said. "We had to hit for him in that one inning and we didn't want to because he was throwing the ball so well. We've got to get him some runs."

St. Louis, which left the bases loaded in the fourth, made it 2-0 in the eighth when Walker homered off Mike Remlinger. Rolen added a two-run homer against Chad Fox.


* The Cardinals have homered in 10 straight games.

* Henry Blanco singled in the seventh to end an 0-for-13 slump.

* Burnitz, who had been 6-for-10 in his three previous games, was 0-for-4.

* The Cardinals are 6-1 on the road and 3-4 at home.

* The Cubs completed a 4-3 trip.

* Neifi Perez, who started at shortstop in place of Garciaparra, was 2-for-4 with a pair of singles.

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