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St. Louis at Philadelphia

Scoreboard
St. Louis (83-69) «200002010581
Philadelphia (98-53)000000000080

Cardinals improve playoff chances, blank Phillies

CBSSports.com wire reports
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PHILADELPHIA -- The St. Louis Cardinals are making a playoff push by avoiding looking at the big picture.

Allen Craig hit two homers and drove in three runs, Chris Carpenter gave up eight hits in eight innings, and the Cardinals improved their playoff chances with a 5-0 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday night.

"Common sense is if you allow anything to distract you, then it's going to take away from your best shot," St. Louis manager Tony LaRussa said after the Cardinals pulled within 3½ games of the Atlanta Braves in the NL wild-card chase. "So don't think about anything but the next game we're going to play. We can't control what Atlanta does. But if we don't win a bunch of games, then it's all irrelevant. We're just trying to win the game we play in the series we're playing."

Albert Pujols also homered for the Cardinals (83-69), who have won nine of 11. The Cardinals remained 6½ back of the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central.

"We just need to take one day at a time," Pujols said. "We took today's game. Flip the page and hopefully come tomorrow and try to win the series."

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St. Louis has 10 games remaining while the Braves (87-66) have nine.

Carpenter (10-9) recorded all but four of his outs by groundballs, and induced three double plays. Only three Phillies reached second and none advanced to third. Carpenter finished with five strikeouts and one walk.

"I was getting ahead in the count, sinking the ball down and away and getting the ball on the ground, which is key for these guys," Carpenter said. "My stuff was good, commanding down in the strike zone on both sides of the plate with my fastball. When you're against guys who want to swing, if you make good pitches, you get early outs."

Chase Utley had three hits for the Phillies (98-53), who rested just two starters a day after clinching their fifth straight NL East title. First baseman Ryan Howard, who is battling a nagging left ankle injury, and catcher Carlos Ruiz didn't start for Philadelphia. Howard is scheduled to have an anti-inflammatory injection in the ankle on Monday.

"Their pitcher pitched good," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "He was changing speeds and had a good sinker. The double plays made it difficult to score runs."

Pujols put the Cardinals up 2-0 in the first inning by launching Cole Hamels' first pitch into the second deck in left field. The St. Louis slugger had been just 3 for 20 (.150) off Hamels entering the game.

"Pujols hit a fastball that looked like it was inside, but Pujols is Pujols," Manuel said.

It was the 36th homer for Pujols, who is five RBI shy of 100 in his quest for his 11th straight season of batting .300 with 30 homers and 100 RBI. He went 1 for 4 and his averaged dropped a point to .300.

"I've seen it for 11 years," LaRussa said. "It got everybody excited and Hamels got really, really tough, so it's a good thing we got him before everything got working."

St. Louis increased the margin to 4-0 in the sixth on Craig's two-run shot. Craig twice failed in sacrifice bunt attempts, but he made up for it with a long drive to deep left center. Craig's homer was the 17th allowed by Hamels this season, which is the most on the heralded Phillies staff.

Craig added a solo shot to center in the eighth off Joe Blanton.

"He's hit every place he's played," LaRussa said of Craig. "And he's gotten big hits and those are two big ones."

Hamels (14-9) was vying to tie his career high with 15 wins, but two bad pitches did him in. Outside of the homers, the left-hander was solid with nine strikeouts and no walks.

Philadelphia remained four victories shy of setting a franchise record for wins in a season.

Fernando Salas completed the shutout with a scoreless ninth.

Carpenter hopes the Cardinals can continue the momentum.

"You continue to play hard, just like we have all year," he said. "Fortunately, we've been pitching well and hitting well. Some things are going well for us at times and we're pitching and playing well. That's what you have to do.

"We've been playing well and hopefully we can continue it tomorrow and get back home and continue it at home."

Notes

  • Right-hander Justin DeFratus, making his major league debut, pitched a scoreless ninth for the Phillies. Pujols has now reached safely in 34 straight games. St. Louis outfielder Matt Holliday missed his fourth straight game with an inflamed tendon on his right middle finger. The Phillies' crowd of 45,063 was the club's 199th regular-season sellout and 212th straight overall, counting postseason.
  • Philadelphia was shut out for just the sixth time this season.
  • Cardinals right-hander Kyle Lohse (13-8, 3.62) is scheduled to face right-hander Roy Halladay (18-5, 2.34) at 7:05 Monday night in the finale of the four-game series.
 
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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Allen Craig (left) and Albert Pujols combine for five RBI during the Cards' much-needed win over the Phillies.  (Getty Images)
Allen Craig (left) and Albert Pujols combine for five RBI during the Cards' much-needed win over the Phillies. (Getty Images)

Players of the Game
St. Louis

A. Craig
AB 4
R 3
H 3
HR 2
RBI 3
St. Louis

C. Carpenter
IP 8.0
H 8
ER 0
BB 1
K 5
 
St. Louis Cardinals
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Ryan Theriot, 2B4110010 .272
Allen Craig, RF4333000 .314
    Corey Patterson, RF0000000 .239
Albert Pujols, 1B4112010 .300
David Freese, 3B4000030 .289
    Daniel Descalso, 3B0000000 .267
Lance Berkman, LF4010010 .296
    Fernando Salas, P0000000 .000
Yadier Molina, C4000011 .295
Rafael Furcal, SS3010110 .226
Jon Jay, CF4010021 .307
Chris Carpenter, P3000012 .152
    Adron Chambers, LF0000000 .333
Totals34585111  
Batting
2B - Ryan Theriot (24, Hamels), Allen Craig (13, Hamels)
HR - Allen Craig 2 (8, Hamels, Blanton), Albert Pujols (36, Hamels)
RBI - Allen Craig 3 (32), Albert Pujols 2 (95)
SB - Rafael Furcal (9, 2nd base off Hamels/Schneider)
Team LOB - 3
Fielding
DP - Freese-Theriot-Pujols, Theriot-Furcal-Pujols, Furcal-Pujols
E - Rafael Furcal (11, Throwing)
St. Louis Cardinals
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Chris Carpenter (W,10-9) 8800150 3.66
Fernando Salas 1000110 2.29
Pitches-Strikes - Chris Carpenter 115-72, Fernando Salas 17-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Chris Carpenter 11-6
Batters Faced - Chris Carpenter 31, Fernando Salas 4
Philadelphia Phillies
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Jimmy Rollins, SS4010001 .268
Shane Victorino, CF4010001 .289
Chase Utley, 2B4030000 .263
Hunter Pence, RF4010012 .310
Raul Ibanez, LF4000002 .243
Placido Polanco, 3B3010101 .281
Ross Gload, 1B3000102 .245
Brian Schneider, C4000032 .171
Cole Hamels, P2010010 .164
   a- John Bowker, PH1000011 .160
    Joe Blanton, P0000000 .200
    Justin De Fratus, P0000000 .000
Totals3308026  
a-struck out for Hamels in the 7th
Fielding
DP - Utley-Rollins-Gload
Philadelphia Phillies
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Cole Hamels (L,14-9) 7744092 2.80
Joe Blanton 1111021 5.45
Justin De Fratus 1000100 0.00
Pitches-Strikes - Cole Hamels 91-61, Joe Blanton 19-14, Justin De Fratus 13-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Cole Hamels 6-5, Joe Blanton 1-0, Justin De Fratus 1-2
Batters Faced - Cole Hamels 27, Joe Blanton 4, Justin De Fratus 4
Game Information
Attendance - 45063
Game Time - 2:27
Temperature - 61
Umpires - Home - Gary Darling, First Base - Paul Emmel, Second Base - Rob Drake, Third Base - Bruce Dreckman