After being whacked for 29 runs and 38 hits by Atlanta in the first two games of the series, the Cardinals slowed down the Braves Wednesday. First, there was a 2-hour, 12-minute delay for high winds and then rain. Then, there was Jim Edmonds hitting a three-run homer. And there was Chris Carpenter pitching seven strong innings for his ninth victory, 8-3.
The Cardinals maintained their 3 1/2 game lead over Cincinnati in the National League Central Division as they beat the Braves for only the second time in six meetings this season. Atlanta has outscored the Cardinals 45-29. St. Louis finished its seven-game homestand at 5-2.
"That's a heckuva piece of work to start the second half," manager Tony La Russa said. And now the Cardinals start their longest trip of the season, with three games in Los Angeles, three in Colorado and four in Chicago.
At 53-41, the Cardinals are on pace to win 91 games, after posting 105- and 100-victory seasons the last two years.
Carpenter threw just 77 pitches in seven innings but had warmed up twice. "I thought he did a great job just getting to seven innings," La Russa said.
REPLAY: The Cardinals, who had given up multiple-run innings on nine occasions in the first two games of the series, hit the Braves with two four-run innings -- in the third and the fifth.
That was enough to lead St. Louis to an 8-3 win. Jim Edmonds' third homer in three games capped a four-run third that gave Chris Carpenter all the room he needed to gain his ninth victory.
--1B Albert Pujols extended his hitting streak to nine games with a fifth-inning single. He is 17-for-39 (.436) in that span.
--CF Jim Edmonds has seven homers this month after having only seven total in the first three months.
--RHP Chris Carpenter, who had been 2 for his first 36 with 18 strikeouts, drove home only his second run of the season with a single in the four-run fifth inning. Carpenter is 3-0 with a 2.48 ERA in four July starts.
--SS David Eckstein struck out three times Wednesday. He hadn't fanned in 32 plate appearances before he whiffed in the first inning. It was just the third time in his career he had fanned three times and the first time in his two seasons as a Cardinal.