• My Scores
  • MLB
  • Golf

St. Louis at Atlanta

Scoreboard
St. Louis (61-49) «0000201227120
Atlanta (49-58)0100100002110

Cards pull away from Braves; Carpenter solid in first start in 16 months

CBSSports.com wire reports
  •  

ATLANTA -- The St. Louis Cardinals gushed over the return of Chris Carpenter, who gives their playoff hopes a major boost.

Over in the other clubhouse, the Atlanta Braves got a grim report on Tim Hudson's ailing elbow, another blow in their miserable season.

Carpenter pitched four solid innings in his first start since April 2007, and the Cardinals beat the slumping Braves 7-2 on Wednesday night.

Albert Pujols drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh for the Cardinals and Joe Mather put the game out of reach with a two-run homer in the eighth.

But all eyes were on Carpenter, the NL Cy Young Award winner in 2005. He spent the past year recovering from ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow and was making his first appearance in the big leagues since starting on opening day -- of last season.

"It was fun," he said. "It was something I've been looking forward to for a long time. It's just good to get back out there and complete."

Carpenter allowed one run and five hits. He threw 67 pitches, striking out two and walking two.

Adding another quality starter to the rotation should bolster the Cardinals for the final two months as they try to keep pace with the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central. St. Louis and Milwaukee are tied for second, four games back.

"I didn't know how long I would be out there," Carpenter said. "I went out there with the mind-set that I would go as hard as I could for as long as I could."

Manager Tony La Russa certainly had no complaints.

"His competitive instincts were typical Chris Carpenter," La Russa said. "He didn't walk into the Cy Young. He earned every bit of it."

Hudson, the Braves' top starter, went on the disabled list Monday after an MRI discovered ligament damage in his elbow. He was examined by the team physician and met Wednesday with Dr. James Andrews of Birmingham, Ala., who already performed season-ending operations on Atlanta pitchers John Smoltz and Peter Moylan.

"Both concur that surgery is likely," Braves spokesman Brad Hainje said after the game. "But he's going to take a short rehabilitation period before he makes a final decision."

Hudson is likely to need the same operation that Carpenter had and would probably be sidelined for at least a year.

"I think I lost my mentor," said Jair Jurrjens, who took the latest Atlanta loss. "I hope he can recover quick because we need him."

The Braves need a lot more than Hudson in what has become a lost season.

They left the bases loaded three times and stranded 14 runners overall, a major problem for them all season. Casey Kotchman, acquired Tuesday in the blockbuster deal that sent Mark Teixeira to the Los Angeles Angels, grounded out with three on to end the eighth. The new first baseman went 0-for-5 in his Atlanta debut.

"Obviously I wanted a different outcome tonight," Kotchman said.

St. Louis broke a 2-2 tie in the seventh after Jurrjens (10-6) retired the first two hitters. Adam Kennedy kept the inning going with a single, and Pujols drove him home with a double into the left-field corner.

Greg Norton got to the ball quickly and hit shortstop Yunel Escobar with a perfect relay. Escobar appeared to have time to get Kennedy, who had just rounded third, but the strong-armed shortstop inexplicably double-pumped before deciding not to even throw home.

Escobar took off his cap and stared off into the distance, clearly perturbed at his indecision.

In the eighth, Mather gave the Cardinals a cushion with his fourth homer, a drive over the left-field wall off Blaine Boyer. Mather hit a home run in the opening game of the series Monday.

Atlanta's bullpen gave up two more runs in the ninth and has surrendered 49 runs during a five-game losing streak.

The Braves scored their lone run off Carpenter with three straight hits in the second, including Jeff Francoeur's RBI single. Atlanta had runners at second and third with one out, but Carpenter escaped the jam by getting Jurrjens and Gregor Blanco to ground out.

"We never get that big hit when we need it," Jurrjens said. "We're not playing like a team right now."

St. Louis claimed the lead in the fifth. Shortstop Cesar Izturis, batting in the ninth spot, singled in the tying run and Kennedy put the Cardinals ahead with an RBI double.

Atlanta struck back in the bottom half of the fifth after Brad Thompson took over on the mound. Escobar led off with a walk, moved to second on a groundout, took third on Norton's single and trotted home when Omar Infante slapped a single past third.

Thompson (4-2) fanned Kelly Johnson and escaped the jam when Corky Miller grounded out with the bases loaded. He got the win, going 2 2/3 innings. Ron Villone recorded the final four outs for his first save since 2005.

Notes

  • The Cardinals optioned LHP Randy Flores to Triple-A Memphis to clear a spot for Carpenter. Flores was 1-0 with one save and a 4.56 ERA in 37 games.
  • Carpenter spent 270 games on the DL.
  • Jurrjens threw 116 pitches in seven innings.
  • Cardinals CF Skip Schumaker left the game with a hamstring cramp.
 
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.
 
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
Chris Carpenter looks sharp in his return to action, allowing just one run in four innings of work.  (AP)
Chris Carpenter looks sharp in his return to action, allowing just one run in four innings of work. (AP)

Players of the Game
Atlanta

O. Infante
AB 5
R 1
H 3
HR 0
RBI 1
St. Louis

J. Mather
AB 5
R 2
H 2
HR 1
RBI 2
 
St. Louis Cardinals
Skip Schumaker, CF3010200 .302
    Nick Stavinoha, LF0000000 .222
Adam Kennedy, 2B5221002 .269
Albert Pujols, 1B3111201 .355
Ryan Ludwick, RF4021114 .294
Troy Glaus, 3B5011016 .272
Yadier Molina, C5120011 .309
Joe Mather, LF-CF5222012 .257
Chris Carpenter, P1000000 .000
   a- Braden Looper, PH0000000 .293
    Brad Thompson, P1000000 .143
    Russ Springer, P0000000 .000
   b- Aaron Miles, PH1000000 .318
    Kyle McClellan, P0000000 .000
    Ron Villone, P0000000 .000
Cesar Izturis, SS4111000 .229
Totals37712754  
a-hit a sacrifice bunt for Carpenter in the 5th
b-grounded out for Springer in the 8th
Batting
2B - Skip Schumaker (18, Jurrjens), Adam Kennedy (12, Jurrjens), Albert Pujols (25, Jurrjens), Joe Mather (4, Jurrjens)
HR - Joe Mather (4, Boyer)
SH - Braden Looper (7)
RBI - Adam Kennedy (23), Albert Pujols (65), Ryan Ludwick (73), Troy Glaus (72), Joe Mather 2 (9), Cesar Izturis (16)
2-OUT RBI - Albert Pujols (23)
SB - Adam Kennedy (6, 2nd base off Tavarez/Sammons)
Team LOB - 9
St. Louis Cardinals
Chris Carpenter 4511220 2.25
Brad Thompson (W,4-2) 2.2311210 3.89
Russ Springer (H,8) 0.1000000 1.85
Kyle McClellan (H,24) 0.2200100 2.76
Ron Villone (S,1) 1.1100000 5.08
Pitches-Strikes - Chris Carpenter 67-36, Brad Thompson 51-29, Russ Springer 1-1, Kyle McClellan 23-14, Ron Villone 14-13
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Chris Carpenter 7-3, Brad Thompson 3-4, Kyle McClellan 1-1, Ron Villone 2-2
Batters Faced - Chris Carpenter 19, Brad Thompson 13, Russ Springer 1, Kyle McClellan 5, Ron Villone 5
Atlanta Braves
Gregor Blanco, CF4000103 .268
Yunel Escobar, SS2110200 .281
Casey Kotchman, 1B5000005 .283
Greg Norton, LF5020001 .253
Omar Infante, 3B5131002 .294
Kelly Johnson, 2B4020113 .267
Jeff Francoeur, RF4021104 .235
Corky Miller, C2000013 .093
   a- Ruben Gotay, PH1010000 .220
    Royce Ring, P0000000 .000
    Julian Tavarez, P0000000 .000
Jair Jurrjens, P3000012 .098
    Blaine Boyer, P0000000 .000
    Will Ohman, P0000000 .000
   b- Mark Kotsay, PH1000002 .287
    Clint Sammons, C0000000 .250
Totals36211253  
a-singled for Miller in the 8th
b-flied out for Ohman in the 8th
Batting
2B - Kelly Johnson (26, Villone)
SH - Yunel Escobar (4), Corky Miller (1)
RBI - Omar Infante (16), Jeff Francoeur (47)
Team LOB - 14
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Gregor Blanco 1
PB - Corky Miller (4)
Atlanta Braves
Jair Jurrjens (L,10-6) 7733340 3.06
Blaine Boyer 0.1222001 4.55
Will Ohman 0.2000000 2.80
Royce Ring 0.1011100 8.02
Julian Tavarez 0.2311100 6.41
IBB - Pujols by Jair Jurrjens, Pujols by Julian Tavarez
Pitches-Strikes - Jair Jurrjens 116-73, Blaine Boyer 15-9, Will Ohman 9-6, Royce Ring 7-2, Julian Tavarez 17-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jair Jurrjens 8-9, Will Ohman 1-1, Royce Ring 1-0
Batters Faced - Jair Jurrjens 31, Blaine Boyer 3, Will Ohman 2, Royce Ring 2, Julian Tavarez 5
Game Information
Attendance - 35257
Game Time - 3:18
Temperature - 89
Umpires - Home - Jim Joyce, First Base - Jeff Nelson, Second Base - Adrian Johnson, Third Base - Tim Tschida