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Houston at St. Louis

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Carpenter collects 14th win of season, 12th shutout of career

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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ST. LOUIS -- Chris Carpenter coasted into the playoffs last season. This year, he's been dominant down the stretch.

Carpenter threw a six-hitter and Ronnie Belliard had four RBI, helping the St. Louis Cardinals take advantage of a fill-in starter in a 7-0 victory over the Houston Astros on Monday night.

Carpenter has two complete games in his last three starts in a big switch from last season, when he staggered into October with a 9.14 ERA over his final four regular-season starts. The Cardinals clinched the NL Central last year on Sept. 15, which had a lot to do with Carpenter's late slide - and he won the Cy Young Award with a 21-5 record.

"I learned from last year that no matter what the situation was, not to give them away," Carpenter said. "I'm trying as hard as I can to stay locked in and mentally focused on what I need to do."

Juan Encarnacion had two RBI for the Cardinals, who dominated in the first of seven meetings with the Astros over the final 20 games. St. Louis ended a three-game skid and leads the NL Central by five games over Cincinnati and six over the Astros, who beat them in the NLCS last year to go to the World Series.

"I think it's important to note," manager Tony La Russa said. "You just can't make too much of it. Enjoy it for a while."

Taylor Buchholz was recalled from Triple-A Round Rock to sub for Andy Pettitte, who was pushed back a day because of a heavy workload and a minor ankle sprain. Buchholz (6-10) made his first appearance for Houston since July 27 and allowed five runs in 3 1/3 innings.

"I thought I'd figured some of this stuff out down in Triple-A and I just went back to doing the same old thing I was doing in the past," Buchholz said.

Carpenter (14-6) is 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA in his last seven starts. He lowered his NL-leading ERA to 2.84 with his fourth compete game of the season and third shutout, which tied Arizona's Brandon Webb for the major league lead.

"That's kind of the way he's been pitching," La Russa said. "He's such a horse."

Carpenter struck out six and walked two, raising his career record against Houston to 5-2 with a 2.52 ERA. He has 24 career complete games and 12 shutouts.

He had been 0-1 against the Astros this season while allowing nine runs in 14 innings. The Astros were shut out for the second straight game, and 13th time overall, after Adam Wainwright worked the ninth.

Carpenter has worked eight or more innings in five of his last six starts. He's 7-3 with a league-leading 1.47 ERA in 15 starts at home.

Belliard had been in an 0-for-20 slump before his RBI single off Buchholz in the third. His three-run triple off Fernando Nieve capped a five-run inning that put the Cardinals ahead 7-0.

"I had a rough week," Belliard said. "I didn't know I was 0-for-20, but I knew I was 0-for-the-last-six-games."

Encarnacion had an RBI single in the third and drew a bases-loaded walk from Nieve in the fourth.

Astros shortstop Adam Everett committed two errors, one of them contributing to five unearned runs in the fourth. He lost his grip and double-pumped while preparing to throw on a grounder by Aaron Miles, and Miles ended up beating the throw with one out and none on.

Five of the next six batters reached safely.

"I just never got a handle on it," Everett said. "When you've got a guy like Carpenter on the mound, two runs, you've got a chance. But seven runs by the fourth inning, that's tough to overcome."

Everett, who also misplayed a short hop on Carpenter's liner up the middle in the second, has only seven errors. This was his fifth two-error game and first since May 1, 2005.

Notes

  • Carpenter has 35 victories the last two seasons, tied for most in the majors with Jon Garland of the White Sox. Carpenter also has only five walks in 61 1/3 innings over his last eight starts.
  • Buchholz's outing ended a run of 12 straight games in which Astros starters allowed three runs or fewer, and one or fewer in eight of those games.
  • The last Cardinals pitcher to lead the league in ERA was Joe Magrane at 2.18 in 1988.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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St. Louis ace Chris Carpenter (14-6) picks up his second complete game in his last three starts.  (Getty Images)
St. Louis ace Chris Carpenter (14-6) picks up his second complete game in his last three starts. (Getty Images)

Players of the Game
St. Louis

R. Belliard
AB 4
R 0
H 2
HR 0
RBI 4
St. Louis

C. Carpenter
IP 9.0
H 6
ER 0
BB 2
K 6
 
Houston Astros
Craig Biggio, 2B3000110
    Russ Springer, P0000000
    Trever Miller, P0000000
Mike Lamb, 3B4010011
Lance Berkman, 1B4000020
Aubrey Huff, RF4010010
Luke Scott, LF-CF3010101
Chris Burke, CF-2B4020002
Adam Everett, SS3010003
Brad Ausmus, C3000011
Taylor Buchholz, P1000000
    Fernando Nieve, P0000000
   a- Charlton Jimerson, PH1000000
    Dave Borkowski, P0000000
   b- Orlando Palmeiro, PH-LF1000000
Totals31060268 
a-popped out for Nieve in the 6th
b-grounded out for Borkowski in the 8th
Batting
CS - Mike Lamb (, 2nd base by Carpenter/Molina)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
E - Adam Everett 2 (, Misplayed grounder)
Houston Astros
Taylor Buchholz (L,-) 3.1552410
Fernando Nieve 1.2122420
Dave Borkowski 2000010
Russ Springer 0.1100000
Trever Miller 0.2000010
IBB - Molina by Taylor Buchholz, by Pujols, Spiezio by Fernando Nieve
Pitches-Strikes - Taylor Buchholz 77-44, Fernando Nieve 47-22, Dave Borkowski 21-15, Russ Springer 3-2, Trever Miller 10-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Taylor Buchholz 5-6, Fernando Nieve 3-0, Dave Borkowski 4-1, Russ Springer 1-0
Batters Faced - Taylor Buchholz 21, Fernando Nieve 10, Dave Borkowski 6, Russ Springer 2, Trever Miller 2
St. Louis Cardinals
Aaron Miles, SS4100103
Chris Duncan, RF3210201
Albert Pujols, 1B3220211
Scott Rolen, 3B4001015
   a- John Rodriguez, PH1000011
    Skip Schumaker, LF0000000
Scott Spiezio, LF-3B4110103
Juan Encarnacion, CF3112101
Ronnie Belliard, 2B4024001
Yadier Molina, C3000113
Chris Carpenter, P4000010
Totals337778519 
a-struck out for Rolen in the 8th
Batting
2B - Chris Duncan (, Buchholz), Albert Pujols (, Springer), Scott Spiezio (, Buchholz)
3B - Ronnie Belliard (, Nieve)
RBI - Scott Rolen (), Juan Encarnacion 2 (), Ronnie Belliard 4 ()
2-OUT RBI - Juan Encarnacion 2 (), Ronnie Belliard 4 ()
Team LOB - 10
Fielding
DP - Miles-Pujols
St. Louis Cardinals
Chris Carpenter (W,-) 9600260
Pitches-Strikes - Chris Carpenter 115-79
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Chris Carpenter 11-8
Batters Faced - Chris Carpenter 33
Game Information
Attendance - 41061
Game Time - 2:29
Temperature - 79
Umpires - Home - Rick Reed, First Base - Tim Tschida, Second Base - Ted Barrett, Third Base - Laz Diaz