The Cardinals Major League Notebook 05/21

After not facing a hitter for more than five weeks, other than bullpen coach Marty Mason standing in the batter's box, Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter was back in form Wednesday night.

On a pitch limit because he had been out so long with a torn left oblique muscle, Carpenter was held to five innings and 67 pitches. But the results were estimable. He allowed only three hits and no runs, extending his scoreless innings streak to 15 this season and restoring a huge measure of confidence to a team that had been flagging lately.

"How do you do that?" manager Tony La Russa asked, rhetorically. "He's never faced a hitter. It was amazing what he did.

"It's not surprising. It's just amazingly impressive to be able to shut out that club he faced for five innings."

Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee said Carpenter (2-0) was the "nastiest pitcher I've faced all year."

Carpenter, for his part, was reserved but happy.

"It was fun to get out and compete again," he said. "I felt good."

La Russa said Carpenter had given him "that stare" when it was decided to pull him after five innings. But Carpenter said, "I never argue the decisions they make. They're the bosses."

Cardinals 2, Cubs 1: RHP Chris Carpenter and four relievers held Chicago to one run Wednesday after RHP Joel Pineiro had blanked the Cubs on Tuesday. The Cardinals had just enough offense, scoring one run in the fourth on LF Chris Duncan's single past drawn-in 2B Bobby Scales and the other on a sacrifice fly in the seventh by PH Khalil Greene.

Notes, Quotes

• RHP Chris Carpenter is 8-3 with a 2.93 ERA against the Cubs. He also is 10-5 with a 1.84 ERA at the newest Busch Stadium. His next start will come Monday in Milwaukee.

• Four Cardinals relievers—RHP Kyle McClellan, RHP Jason Motte, LHP Dennys Reyes and Ryan Franklin(save No. 10)— held the Cubs to one run over the last four innings Wednesday. The Cardinals, with "holds" by every pitcher but Franklin, lead the majors with 31.

• The 11 walks issued by the Cardinals on Monday were the most by the club in a nine-inning game since July 28, 2004, at Cincinnati, when RHP Jeff Suppan handed out 10 of the 11 walks.

By The Numbers: 11—Rookies who have played for the Cardinals this season. OF Nick Stavinoha, brought up from Class AAA Memphis, was the latest.

Roster Report

• Rookie OF Shane Robinson, a .240 hitter in 11 games, was optioned to Class AAA Memphis to make room for RHP Chris Carpenter, activated from the 15-day disabled list after recovering from a torn left oblique muscle. Another move probably will be made Friday when CF Rick Ankiel (bruised right shoulder) is expected to come off the DL. Ankiel worked out for the first time in St. Louis Wednesday night after spending the last 10 days or so rehabilitating at the Cardinals' spring training site in Jupiter, Fla.

• LF Chris Duncan, who been in a 1-for-20 nosedive, took advantage of the infield being in with a man at third in the fourth inning. Duncan hit a hard grounder that went for a single and scored 1B Albert Pujols, who had hustled his way to a double and moved up on a sacrifice by C Yadier Molina.

• SS Khalil Greene, battling anxiety issues, has started just one of the last seven games, but he delivered a key sacrifice fly as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning. Greene still is 0 for his last 13.

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