The Cardinals reduced their magic number to 14 for clinching the division title and won the first game of a series for the 15th straight time Monday as Chris Carpenter pitched a one-hitter for the 13th shutout of his career.
Manager Tony La Russa, addressing the Cardinals' penchant for winning the first game of a series, said, "It's a sign of consistency. It's a sign of getting ready to play. And it's a sign of having a lot to play with."
With Carpenter, the Cardinals almost always have had a lot to play with this year, his first year back after missing most of the last two seasons because of elbow and shoulder problems.
"This was a good example of how really good he is," said La Russa, after Carpenter allowed just three hitters to reach base, two of them on walks. The other to reach was right fielder Jody Gerut, who sliced a double into the left-field corner with one out in the fifth.
Third baseman Troy Glaus, making his third straight start, turned in a strong backhanded play to rob catcher Jason Kendall of a hit in the fifth and shortstop Brendan Ryan excelled again, especially when he started a double play in the ninth.
"There isn't anybody in baseball playing better than he is," said La Russa.
Carpenter fanned 10 as he posted his 11th straight victory and 16th in 19 decisions. He had beaten the Brewers Wednesday but gave up three runs in six innings. "My command was better. Five days ago my command of my fastball wasn't very good," said Carpenter.
The gem was Carpenter's
second one-hitter of his career (the other was in 2005 at
"I like finishing any game," said Carpenter, who has 28 complete games. "It doesn't matter if it's a shutout or not."
CARDINALS 3, BREWERS 0: 1B Albert Pujols drove in two runs in the fifth and scored the other in the eighth as he had three hits and a walk. RHP Chris Carpenter (16-3) never allowed the Brewers to have two runners in the same inning, and no one reached third base.
With runners at second and third and two out in a scoreless game in the fifth inning Monday, Milwaukee manager Ken Macha was in a tough spot. 1B Albert Pujols was the hitter and LF Matt Holliday was next. Macha chose to pitch to Pujols, who doubled in two runs. Cardinals manager Tony La Russa agreed with Macha's decision. "Walking the bases loaded—the only time you do that is when you have a significant edge with the guy on deck," said La Russa. "No way Matt Holliday is a big edge."
The Cardinals went 25 games over .500 for the second time this season. Since taking over first place in the division on Aug. 7, they have not lost ground to the Chicago Cubs on any day. They are 11-0-2 in their last 12 series.
It will be at least a week more
before the Cardinals get any reinforcements from the minors. The Memphis
Redbirds, many of whom have played with the Cardinals at one time this season,
wrapped up their division title in the Pacific Coast League by winning a
The only immediate downside for the Cardinals is that they won't be able to bring up another catcher, probably Matt Pagnozzi, until the playoffs are over. So the Cardinals will continue with Yadier Molina and Jason LaRue.
RHP Ryan Franklin had converted saves in his last 13 outings before blowing the save and suffering his second loss on Sunday when LHP Trever Miller, who also has been very effective, allowed a game-ending hit.
"I'm not saying that either one of us (Franklin and Miller) have been on too much of a high, but it brings you back down to where you're supposed to be," said Franklin.
By The Numbers:
Quote To Note:
"It might be his last one for the '09 season."
—Manager Tony La Russa, on giving
LF Matt Holliday his first day off after Holliday had played in 38 straight
games since being acquired from
RHP Ryan Franklin, who was touched for his second loss and third blown of the season Sunday, will get a couple of days off, said La Russa. "When he's had a nice rest," said La Russa, "his stuff has a little more life." Franklin, who has walked seven batters in his last seven games after passing 10 in his first 48, said, "Everybody goes through stretches like this."
3B Mark DeRosa, who has missed three starts with back discomfort, was reported much better and suggested he could have played if the Cardinals hadn't been so far ahead in the standings. Troy Glaus, slowly coming around after missing most of the season trying to make it back from January shoulder surgery, had two hits and made a strong defensive play.
RHP Kyle Lohse, just off the
disabled list (strained left groin) will return to the rotation on Saturday
Veteran RHP John Smoltz will start Tuesday night against Milwaukee and will take his next turn, probably against Florida the Monday after that. And then La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan probably will decide where Smoltz best fits for October—rotation or bullpen.
3B Mark DeRosa (sore back) did not play Sept. 6-7 and is day to day.
LHP Kyle Lohse (strained groin) went on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 22. He threw a bullpen session Aug. 27, and he was activated Sept. 7.