Right-hander Chris Carpenter is the ace of the Cardinals' staff. Yet he is 4-7.
Three starts ago, he was 1-7. Throwing eight scoreless innings Monday night, Carpenter was rewarded with a victory when pinch hitter Mark Hamilton squibbed a pinch single to score the lone run of the game in the eighth inning as the Cardinals edged the Reds 1-0.
The triumph moved the Cardinals one game ahead of the Brewers into undisputed first place in the National League Central.
Carpenter again is the horse he's been for the Cardinals for most of eight seasons. Over his last three starts, he has given up only two runs over 24 innings (0.75 ERA).
"His record is very deceiving," manager Tony La Russa said, "but he never gives up. He never gives in. There's a lot of baseball left."
Carpenter's win, saved in
perfect fashion by right-hander Fernando Salas (No. 15), came against Johnny Cueto. The Reds right-hander was making his first start in
But Carpenter maintained there was no revenge involved.
"I've said it all along," Carpenter said. "I mean, it's history and we're professionals. You move on."
Hamilton, who got his first RBI as a pinch hitter, thought he had skimmed a double into left field but wound up having to dive into first base to beat a throw from Reds third baseman Scott Rolen, who made a remarkable play to get to the ball.
1B Albert Pujols, out since June 19 with a left wrist fracture, took groundballs outside and hit against a pitching machine inside Monday, and he appears much more likely to return to the roster sooner rather than later. Pujols, who is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list Tuesday, could even be back that night. "Hopefully, it can be (Tuesday)," Pujols said.
Manager Tony La Russa said, "Oh yeah, he's ahead of schedule."
Pujols wasn't named to the All-Star team for the second time in his 11 seasons, but he said, "I don't think I deserve to be an All-Star."
Backup C Gerald Laird
will join Class AAA Memphis in
RHP Eduardo Sanchez, who is on the disabled list with rotator cuff irritation, threw a bullpen session Monday. He will report to Class AA Springfield on Thursday to begin a rehabilitation assignment.
RF Jon Jay took away a home run from Cincinnati RF Jay Bruce with a leaping catch in the fourth inning, and he deprived Reds SS Edgar Renteria of a two-run double with a backtracking grab in the seventh. "That's why I practice hard in (batting practice)," Jay said. "So when these game situations come up, it's more instinct."
RHP Chris Carpenter is 13-4 for his career against the Reds. He has won three straight starts overall this season after winning just one of his first 15.
The Cardinals are in the midst of playing the Reds six times in a 10-game span, with the All-Star break figured in.
CF Colby Rasmus, who scored the winning run Monday, singled twice. He had had only three hits on the Cardinals' recent six-game trip, all of them homers, in 22 at-bats.
BY THE NUMBERS: 4 - Perfect innings for a save RHP Fernando Salas has had among the 15 saves he's compiled.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "If he's ready, there's no need to wait. Most of all, you listen to him because he's going to know best."
- Manager Tony La Russa, on the imminent return of 1B Albert Pujols.
1B Albert Pujols (fractured left wrist) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 20. He took grounders and hit against a machine July 4, and he might be activated July 5.
RHP Eduardo Sanchez (mild right shoulder strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 13. He threw a bullpen session July 4, and he will begin a rehabilitation assignment with Class AA Springfield on July 7.
OF Allen Craig (broken right kneecap) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 8.
C Gerald Laird (broken right index finger) went on the 15-day disabled list May 23. He will begin a rehab assignment with Class AAA Memphis on July 5, and he could be activated as soon as July 8.
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. He was scheduled to play catch on flat ground in late June.
July 5 vs. REDS: Jaime Garcia (7-3, 3.33) vs. Edinson Volquez (5-3, 5.65) 6:09
p.m. CDT (ESPN, FOX