MLB Insiders - Carpenter improves to 12-6

Chris Carpenter, making a late bid to repeat as Cy Young Award winner, raised his record to 12-6 with eight strong innings in a 5-3 win at Chicago.

Chat rooms were buzzing and telephone lines were burning Saturday when Cardinals manager Tony La Russa pinch-hit veteran Juan Encarnacion for hot-hitting rookie Chris Duncan with the bases loaded in the ninth inning of a tie game. Encarnacion struck out, and the Cardinals wound up losing in 10 innings to the Cubs.

The debate raged until the first inning of Sunday's game. After Duncan hit his third homer in three games in the series and fourth in his last six, Encarnacion clouted a three-run homer to cap a four-inning rally and lead Chris Carpenter to a 5-3 victory over the Cubs.

"Yesterday was yesterday," Encarnacion said simply.

Encarnacion has 17 homers, third on the club, and 66 RBIs, also third on the club, although he had been hitting under .220 in August until Sunday's game.

The Cardinals needed Encarnacion's homer because Cubs rookie Juan Mateo, who had been in the Cardinals' camp this spring as a Rule 5 draftee before they sold him back to the Cubs, blanked them for his final six innings.

Duncan is 12-for-25 (.440) against the Cubs this season. In his last six games overall, he is 14-for-30 (.467). He has become the power-hitting corner outfielder the Cardinals were seeking.

REPLAY: The Cardinals rode a solo homer in the first by Chris Duncan and a three-run homer later in the inning by Juan Encarnacion as they beat the Cubs in Wrigley Field for only the second time in 10 games, yesterday.

--RHP Jason Isringhausen, despite allowing Chicago 3B Aramis Ramirez's 30th homer in the ninth inning, gained his 30th save of the season. Isringhausen, who is 30-for-38, has had 30 or more saves in six of the last seven seasons.

--Speaking of 30, RHP Chris Carpenter, Sunday's winning pitcher, hasn't walked a hitter in 30 innings after eight walkless innings Sunday.

--CF Jim Edmonds, still being brought along slowly after feeling some post-concussion syndrome, played only one inning on defense Sunday.

--SS David Eckstein sat out a second consecutive game Sunday with a strained left oblique muscle.

--3B Scott Rolen and 1B Albert Pujols both started nifty double plays Sunday to help RHP Chris Carpenter out of tough spots.

--The Cardinals won their first series in Chicago this season. Against the White Sox and Cubs, they had been a collective 1-11 before winning Sunday's finale of the three-game set with the Cubs.

BY THE NUMBERS: 16 -- Difference between the visitors and the Cardinals (73-57) in home runs at Busch Stadium.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "You have to wonder where we go from here." -- Manager Tony La Russa, on the availability of CF Jim Edmonds, who has post-concussion syndrome.

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