|St. Louis «||0||0||2||0||1||0||0||0||x||3||5||0|
Carpenter is coming out on top against all of the National League's aces. He threw a three-hitter Tuesday night to become the major leagues' first 16-game winner in a 3-1 St. Louis victory over Willis and the Florida Marlins.
"He's one of the best pitchers we've seen all year," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. "One of the best-pitched games we've seen all year. Give the guy credit."
John Gall drove in the first two runs of his career and Jim Edmonds had an RBI single for the Cardinals, who have won five of eight and have the NL's best record at 67-39. St. Louis, which has beaten up on the Central Division with a 32-13 record, improved to 8-9 against the tougher competition in the East.
Carpenter (16-4) beat Houston's Roger Clemens in his first start after throwing a scoreless inning in the All-Star Game, and bested Clemens' teammates Roy Oswalt and Andy Pettitte earlier this season. He won his eighth consecutive decision in nine starts and Willis, who hit the first two batters he faced to set the tone for a wild, 103-pitch, five-inning outing, couldn't keep up.
Carpenter convinced himself it wasn't a special matchup, and he just had to do his job against the Marlins hitters.
"Nothing I can do about what Dontrelle does," Carpenter said. "Dontrelle goes out and competes just like I do. My job is to get the one through nine guys out on their side."
Carpenter allowed only a leadoff double in the first to Juan Pierre, a third-inning single to Luis Castillo and an infield single to Jeff Conine in the ninth, striking out six and walking one. In his last nine starts, Carpenter is 8-0 with an 0.83 ERA with 68 strikeouts and 11 walks in 75 2/3 innings. His overall ERA dropped to 2.26.
He needed only 109 pitches, 81 strikes, to throw his fifth complete game of the season and the 18th of his career. For Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, it was a no-brainer sending Carpenter out for the ninth against the top of the Marlins lineup instead of Jason Isringhausen.
"We have one of the game's best closers but he was fresh and we didn't feel like we were pushing him at all," La Russa said. "I don't care how great Izzy is, if I'm on the other side they may think they've got a better chance when the other guy comes out, because Carpenter's just dealing."
Carpenter gave up a run in the first when Pierre lined the second pitch of the game to the right field corner and scored on Conine's one-out sacrifice fly. He settled down in the second, needing only seven pitches to retire the 6-7-8 batters in order, and retired 14 in a row between the third and eighth.
Willis (14-7) allowed three runs -- one earned -- and three hits with four strikeouts and three walks. He threw seven shutout innings in his previous start but has lost four of his last five starts, giving up 24 earned runs in 25 innings. He has lost his last three road starts.
"I felt like I was in the game the whole time," Willis said. "I battled through it. I kept us in the game and there were some unfortunate plays and that's all they needed."
For his career, Willis is 29-10 before the All-Star break and 9-14 after.
Willis worked out of self-inflicted trouble in the first, when he hit David Eckstein and So Taguchi and then walked Mark Grudzielanek with two outs to load the bases. He escaped on Gall's infield popup.
The Cardinals loaded the bases in the eighth against Ron Villone but failed to score when Carpenter was called out for interference when he missed on a squeeze attempt. The ball glanced off catcher Paul Lo Duca's glove and Lo Duca couldn't get around Carpenter for a tag play at the plate.
Under baseball rule 7.08g, the runner should have been out.
Gall gave the Cardinals the lead in the third on a two-run, two-out double, a sinking liner that right fielder Juan Encarnacion dived for but could not handle. A fielding error by third baseman Mike Lowell on Albert Pujols' grounder led to two unearned runs.
"It seemed like that ball was up there for a while," Gall said. "Luckily, he didn't get there."
Edmonds, 9-for-23 during a six-game hitting streak with three homers, made it 3-1 with an RBI single in the fifth.
|Chris Carpenter's fifth complete game of the year is a three-hit, six-strikeout performance. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Juan Pierre, CF||4||1||1||0||0||0||1||.270|
|Luis Castillo, 2B||3||0||1||0||0||0||0||.307|
|Jeff Conine, 1B||3||0||1||1||0||1||1||.292|
|Miguel Cabrera, LF||3||0||0||0||1||1||1||.349|
|Paul Lo Duca, C||4||0||0||0||0||2||2||.300|
|Juan Encarnacion, RF||3||0||0||0||0||0||0||.299|
|Ron Villone, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Mike Lowell, 3B||3||0||0||0||0||0||0||.243|
|Alex Gonzalez, SS||2||0||0||0||0||2||0||.275|
|Dontrelle Willis, P||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||.246|
|Valerio De Los Santos, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Chris Aguila, RF||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.261|
|2B - Juan Pierre (9, Carpenter)|
|SF - Jeff Conine (3)|
|SH - Luis Castillo (15)|
|RBI - Jeff Conine (14)|
|Team LOB - 4|
|DP - Castillo-Conine|
|PB - Paul Lo Duca (3)|
|E - Mike Lowell (6, Misplayed grounder)|
|Dontrelle Willis (L,14-7)||5||3||3||1||3||4||0||3.03|
|Valerio De Los Santos||1.2||1||0||0||1||1||0||5.23|
|IBB - Mahoney by Ron Villone|
|HBP - Eckstein (by Dontrelle Willis), Taguchi (by Dontrelle Willis), Rodriguez (by Ron Villone)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Dontrelle Willis 103-68, Valerio De Los Santos 22-15, Ron Villone 16-7|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Dontrelle Willis 6-6, Valerio De Los Santos 3-0, Ron Villone 3-1|
|Batters Faced - Dontrelle Willis 24, Valerio De Los Santos 6, Ron Villone 7|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|David Eckstein, SS||3||0||0||0||1||0||4||.265|
|So Taguchi, RF||3||0||1||0||0||0||0||.276|
|Albert Pujols, 1B||4||2||1||0||0||0||3||.342|
|Jim Edmonds, CF||4||0||1||1||0||1||4||.270|
|Mark Grudzielanek, 2B||2||1||1||0||2||1||1||.288|
|John Gall, LF||3||0||1||2||0||0||4||.273|
|John Rodriguez, LF||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.356|
|Abraham Nunez, 3B||3||0||0||0||0||2||1||.313|
|Mike Mahoney, C||2||0||0||0||2||0||0||.216|
|Chris Carpenter, P||4||0||0||0||0||1||4||.039|
|2B - Albert Pujols (26, Willis), John Gall (2, Willis)|
|SH - Abraham Nunez (5)|
|RBI - Jim Edmonds (65), John Gall 2 (2)|
|2-OUT RBI - John Gall 2 (2)|
|Team LOB - 10|
|Outfield Assists - Jim Edmonds 1|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|Chris Carpenter (W,16-4)||9||3||1||1||1||6||0||2.26|
|HBP - A. Gonzalez (by Chris Carpenter)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Chris Carpenter 109-81|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Chris Carpenter 13-8|
|Batters Faced - Chris Carpenter 32|
|Attendance - 43557|
|Game Time - 2:23|
|Temperature - 90|
|Umpires - Home - Doug Eddings, First Base - Bruce Dreckman, Second Base - Bill Hohn, Third Base - Gerry Davis|