Carpenter Leads Cardinals into NLCS

Chris Carpenter's three-hit shutout powered St. Louis over the Phillies in deciding Game 5 of the NLDS on Friday night in Philadelphia.



Chris Carpenter clearly wasn't himself in Game 2 of the National League division series, when he was pitching on three days' rest for the first time in his career. He lasted just three innings before being pinch-hit for in a 5-4 Cardinals win over Philadelphia.

But manager Tony La Russa said that short rest wasn't the reason Carpenter had a short outing. "Early on, his delivery was out of whack," said La Russa. "Dunc (pitching coach Dave Duncan) fixed it and it was too late. But this was fair."

La Russa was referring to Friday's decisive fifth game of the series, when Carpenter outdueled his longtime friend and former Toronto teammate Roy Halladay in a 1-0 win that propelled the Cardinals into their 10th league championship series. They will open the NLCS at Milwaukee on Sunday afternoon with left-hander Jaime Garcia, who had a strong Game 3 in the division series and who threw a two-hit shutout at the Brewers earlier in the season, starting for the Cardinals. Carpenter will go in Game 3.

Carpenter got 17 ground-ball outs against Philadelphia. "I think he'll remember this forever," said La Russa, "and so will the Cardinal fans."

The 36-year-old right-hander agreed with his manager. "It was an unbelievable night," Carpenter said.

"I was able to do the things that I wasn't able to do in Game 2, and that was get ahead in the count, control the strike zone with my fastball and use my breaking ball when I needed to."

Also unbelievable is that the Cardinals, 10-1/2 games out of the wild-card race on Aug. 25, are now in the NLCS.




CF Jon Jay, who started the first four games of the series, was benched for Game 5, with Skip Schumaker moving from second base to center field and INF Nick Punto getting the start at second base. Punto had been four for 14 against Philadelphia starter Roy Halladay and Jay had been nothing for three in Game 1 and two for 11 in the series. "He's gotten worked over," said manager Tony La Russa of Jay.

But Jay played the last seven innings, as Schumaker, who drove in the only run with a first-inning double, injured his right oblique. Jay made a good play at the wall on Phillies 2B Chase Utley in the ninth. Schumaker may be lost for the start, if not all, the next series against Milwaukee.

The Cardinals have been running more lately and manager Tony La Russa conceded that he had been more aggressive in some end-of-season decisions. With time seemingly running out on his team in the regular season, La Russa said, "There are certain decisions that you can make, that you can push, that you shouldn't do earlier. But the big key was that our players were playing well and we were in game after game after game. And so the decisions meant something, so you kept putting players there and they kept responding."

The Cardinals have won seven of the previous nine National League Division Series in which they have played. They lost only in 2001 and 2009.

SS Rafael Furcal led off three of the division series games with a hit, including two triples. After some slipshod fielding late in the season, he also played brilliantly in the field on Friday night and the entire series.

BY THE NUMBERS: 26-11 - Cardinals' record since Aug. 24.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm not surprised by anything anymore. I mean, we were dead in August. Now look where we are."

- RHP Mitchell Boggs.





2B/OF Skip Schumaker (right oblique) was injured in Oct. 7's NLDS Game 5. He may miss part or all of the NLCS against Milwaukee.

LF Matt Holliday (strained tendon in right palm) re-injured his hand Sept. 27 and left the game, and he didn't play Sept. 28. He didn't start the opener of the NL Division Series, but he appeared as a pinch hitter. However, he felt more pain during the at-bat and was limited to pinch-hitting until he started again in Game 4 of the Division Series on Oct. 5.

RHP Lance Lynn (strained left oblique) went on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 10 and was transferred to the 60-day DL on Sept. 2.

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. Wainwright was getting closer to throwing a full-strength bullpen session in September, but he will not be allowed to throw his signature curveball until next year.



Sat., October 8: No game

Sun., October 9: at BREWERS: pitchers TBA, 3:05 P.M. CDT (TBS, ESPN Radio, KMOX).


<a href='' target='_new' title='Cards top Phillies in Game 5'>Video: Cards top Phillies in Game 5</a>
Lance Berkman, Jason Motte and Skip Schumaker talk about the pitching matchup in their victory.

<a href='' target='_new' title='Cards on NLDS victory'>Video: Cards on NLDS victory</a>
Yadier Molina, Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday discuss the series-clinching win over the Phillies.

<a href='' target='_new' title='La Russa, Carpenter look ahead to NLCS'>Video: La Russa, Carpenter look ahead to NLCS</a>
Tony La Russa and Chris Carpenter discuss the upcoming series with division foe Milwaukee.

Tony La Russa's full post-game comments (from MLB and ASAP Sports)

Q. Did you see Carp come back tonight like he did after the first game?

TONY LA RUSSA: I just think the challenge was fair; the other day it wasn't fair. And I really do think he can pitch with three days' rest. Early on, his delivery was out of whack, Dunc (Dave Duncan) fixed it and it was too late. But this was fair. Our club likes when he starts, and I really believe part of Game 2 was we were going to pick him up since he's picked us up so many times. But we had a tough call because if we had a chance in this series, he was going to pitch twice. But I think he'll remember this forever and so will the Cardinal fans, going into this game against Halladay and winning 1 0.

Q. Given the last month that you guys have had, can you just describe, put your thoughts into words right now?

TONY LA RUSSA: Probably can't. I mean, I just think the club was hit with a lot of stuff in the first four months, and we really overcame so much, and we had a winning year. We were in contention. I know talking to other coaches and managers, players, we earned a lot of respect, and then we got into August, Mo (Mozeliak) made the trade and we were a better ball clubs but we lost games. The guys just decided we're getting ready to mug all we earned, and we're just going to play it like it's the seventh game of the World Series. And they did it every day for six weeks, and then they started enjoying doing that. We were so far behind that we just thought, hey, we'll just keep it simple. And then we got closer and then we got closer, and then it was like, we have a shot, and here we are.

Q. When you were watching Carpenter pitch today, talk about what he was doing and what the ball was doing to produce all those groundballs?

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, we've seen him enough. When his delivery is good, the ball really comes out of his hands, the movement to both sides of the plate, Yadi got his curveball working early, you know, he took something off because they had a lot of left handed hitters. He's like Roy Halladay. They've got really good stuff and they don't throw anything over the middle of the plate.

Q. When you said after Game 1, after you got scored early off of Roy, you said then you didn't think that would be enough to beat him, and it didn't turn out to be that way. And this time you scored once off of him right off the bat and this time it was enough.

TONY LA RUSSA: Baseball is don't ever try to figure it, just enjoy it. I'll tell you, you want to figure out how great he is, there's no way even a great pitcher triple double with the middle of our lineup and we don't get another. And there at the end when you get a base loaded with Berkman; and Halladay, he gets out of there with no runs, keeps it a one run game, that's a great pitcher.

Q. Just to follow up on the season itself, you've had more wins, you've had better seasons, but this is a great finish. Have you had a chance to even think about how satisfying, how do you compare this, how satisfied are you with the season?

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, we had a chance because that qualifying as the wild card there towards the end, especially that last day, 90 wins, I mean, I'm not poor mouthing anything because every club goes through injury. Philadelphia Phillies have been through injuries. It's part of the season. But quite often there's your excuse and guys back off. We had a lot of goes at it and never gave in. When we qualified, we thought, you know, this is really special because we could have given up and we never gave up. And then we had the Phillies and we had Carp.

Q. Obviously you haven't had much time to think about it, but does Garcia make the most sense for Sunday right now?

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, the coincidence is that the last day in Houston, because just in case Dave and I started playing around with the Division Series, and today yesterday and today we started playing around just in case we qualified for the LCS. We have an idea, but we're going to spend more time to pull it together. I think you can rest assured we'll try to get Chris Carpenter as often as we can, so two days' rest four times (laughter.)

Chris Carpenter post-game comments

Q. This is a dream come true type of game. You pitched against your best friend, it's a clincher for you. When you look at what you've done, where does this rank and what was working well?

CHRIS CARPENTER: Well, first of all, it was an unbelievable night. You had to look at all kinds of things. First, Roy Halladay is probably at this time the best pitcher in the game, and we come out and were able to jump on him early and get a quick run, which was huge. Secondly, I went out and was able to do the things that I wasn't able to do in Game 2, and that was get ahead in the count, control the strike zone with my fastball, and use my breaking ball when I needed to.

That being said, you look at our game, there's huge plays, Furcal, Punto, Molina throwing out Chase (Utley), Jon Jay catching that ball there in the last inning, Ryan Howard flying out on a 3 0 pitch. For me as a pitcher that's an enormous play for that game. You look at the whole game and everything that went on in that game, and it was just a tremendous job by our ballclub.

Q. Can you just talk about specifically what you were doing, what the ball was doing to produce all those groundballs which in a park like this is obviously key?

CHRIS CARPENTER: Yeah, keeping the ball down in the strike zone, sinking the ball down with my fastball, keeping my breaking ball down, staying ahead in the count. And when you do that, you get those guys who obviously are a fabulous hitting ballclub, you get them in swing mode. If you're aggressive and they know that, if they don't swing, you're going to be 1 2, 0 2, whatever it is early in the count or behind in the count, they're going to start swinging and that's when you can start expanding the strike zone and getting the ball down and getting them to swing at stuff you want them to swing at and producing good results.

Q. Did you know you had it early?

CHRIS CARPENTER: I'm not concerned about how I feel, it's about executing. My stuff is the same every single time I go out there.

Q. The team showed a graphic right off the game that this is only the third time that there's been a 1 0 final in a deciding game of a series. I think the other one was with Jack Morris. I don't know if you remember that game. Just talk about the magnitude of doing something like this, especially from where you guys were this season and what you faced in this series.

CHRIS CARPENTER: Right. I've said it all along, I said it when we had the opportunity to get into the playoffs, and I said it the other day, yesterday, I guess, when I was doing the interview here. The magnitude of this game has been the same as it's been for the last month and a half with our ballclub and for me. The magnitude of two Wednesdays ago in Houston was an enormous game. If I go out and get shelled and we lose, I have no chance, just like tonight. We've been dealing with that the whole time. I think that the looseness of our ballclub helps us go out and compete the way we're competing.

For me it's another game. I'm going out to do the best I can to get my team a chance to win and move on to the next round. If we don't, I can tell you one thing: Everybody in that clubhouse is going to look at me and know that I gave them 110 percent, just like I will everybody else. Fortunately, like I said, it was a nice win for us and we were able to come out on top and move on.

Q. In the fourth with Ibañez' shot to right field, when it went off the bat, what were you thinking?

CHRIS CARPENTER: I was thinking that this is a small ballpark, please stay in, and it did. I backed up my cutter there, and he put a good swing on it, knowing that that fence there creeps up on you pretty quick, I was hoping that it stayed short. I couldn't tell if Lance (Berkman) was trying to dig me out or if he was going to actually make a play on it. Fortunately he was able to make a play on it.

Q. Did it feel like a home run off the bat?

CHRIS CARPENTER: Again, in this ballpark you don't know. Did I think he crushed it? No. But again, you don't really know in this ballpark.

Q. Given the history of you and the Brewers, you guys and the Brewers have had this season, are you expecting some big excitement in the series?

CHRIS CARPENTER: Well, it's going to be a battle. Those guys can play, man. Those guys have some good starting pitching. They've got a really nice bullpen. Offensively they're really good. They've got two MVP candidates, never mind half the guys around, Braun and Fielder, that when you're looking at Rickie Weeks and Corey Hart and Nyjer (Morgan) and Lucroy and all these guys can swing the bat. It's going to be a lot of fun. We've played a lot of games against them. They've been a battle with us no matter if they were in the playoffs, not in the playoffs. It's been like that since I've been here as a St. Louis Cardinal since 2003, when we were winning 100 games a year in '04 and '05. These guys battled us every single time we played them no matter if we were at home or on the road, and it's been like that since then and it's still going to be like that. It's going to be like that this year. It's going to be a lot of fun. It's going to be a good series, I think. We've got some talented players on both sides that are showcase stars, guys that people want to watch play, and it's going to be a lot of fun. I can't wait for it.

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