After 46 games played by the Cardinals and 10 of them started by Chris Carpenter, the right-hander has just one win, and St. Louis has won only two of his starts.
Carpenter seemed on his way for six innings Friday night, blanking the Kansas City Royals on five hits and commanding his fastball as well as he has all season.
"He pretty much controlled the game," pitching coach Dave Duncan said.
The Cardinals, however, couldn't break through against left-hander Jeff Francis, and ultimately Carpenter was solved for three runs in the seventh inning of the Royals' 3-0 interleague victory.
The key play in the inning was a double by Wilson Betemit that center fielder Colby Rasmus, back in the lineup for two games after missing four games with an abdominal strain, missed on a diving catch attempt after running some distance.
Carpenter, who wound up allowing six of his nine hits in his final two innings, would only say that Betemit's hit "was up there for a while, and it found a spot."
Rasmus said he wasn't hindered by his recent ailment.
"I definitely ran a long way for it," he said. "I didn't come down with it."
The Cardinals didn't execute on offense either. In the second inning, Allen Craig didn't get a good break from second on what would have been a run-scoring single. And, in the fifth, Tyler Greene failed to move a runner from second to third.
"If we hadn't messed up a couple of situations on offense and we could have given (Carpenter) the lead, it could have been a different game," manager Tony La Russa said. "I thought he pitched very well."
Crediting Francis, La Russa nonetheless added, "We definitely created a couple of situations where we should have punched something across.
"We don't usually play perfect, but we try perfect. We had some chances, but they played us better."
NOTES AND QUOTES
1B Albert Pujols hasn't
homered in 94 at-bats, but he did extend his streak of reaching base at Kauffman
Stadium to 31 games with a sixth-inning double. Pujols, who went to high school
and junior college in the
LF Matt Holliday, after missing one game with a tight left quadriceps, returned to the lineup as the designated hitter. He went 1-for-3 with a walk.
RF Lance Berkman, who has a sprained right wrist, sat out again Friday. He didn't even swing a bat, although he will try to do that Saturday.
The Cardinals' bullpen,
overworked at various parts of the young season, has pitched just 6 2/3 innings
in the last five games. But the inactivity isn't an issue for pitching coach
Dave Duncan. "As long as (the starters) keep throwing eight innings, we'll
figure out what to do,"
Friday's shutout was the
Cardinals' second administered to them this season.
C Yadier Molina's hitting streak was stopped at four games. He had been 10 for his last 15 before going 0-for-3 with a walk Friday.
BY THE NUMBERS: 10 - Runs given up in the seventh inning this season by RHP Chris Carpenter. That is his most in any inning.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't sit around and read what you guys write. I don't think it's good for any ballplayer because most of the time what you write is what you think, and that's not necessarily what the player's going through. Just the same way the media can make you look good, the next day they can tear you apart. That's why I don't trust anybody in the media, and I don't listen to them."
- 1B Albert Pujols
LF Matt Holliday (left quadriceps tightness) came out of the game May 18. He did not play May 19, but he started as the designated hitter May 20.
RF Lance Berkman (sore right wrist) was injured making a diving catch May 18. He didn't play May 19-20. He will try to swing a bat May 21.
LHP Bryan Tallet (fractured right hand) went on 15-day disabled list April 13. He made a rehab appearance for Class A Quad Cities on May 17, and he was activated May 20.
INF Nick Punto (right forearm flexor strain) went on the 15-day disabled list May 18.
3B David Freese (broken left hand) went on the 15-day disabled list May 2. He had surgery May 3, and he is expected to be out until mid- to late July.
2B Skip Schumaker (strained right triceps) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 16. He reported to extended spring training May 18, and he hoped to return to the Cardinals within a couple of days.
RHP Bryan Augenstein (strained right groin) went on the 15-day disabled list April 13 and was moved to the 60-day DL on May 16.
RHP Adam Wainwright (Tommy John surgery in February 2011) went on the 60-day disabled list March 25. He will miss the entire 2011 season.
Sat.,May 21 at ROYALS: Jake Westbrook (3-3, 6.07) vs. Nate Adcock (1-0, 2.16) 1:10 p.m. CDT (FOX Sports