Cardinals 1, Reds 0

Chris Carpenter hit another high note in his midseason surge.

The St. Louis Cardinals’ pitcher insisted getting the better of

Johnny Cueto provided no extra incentive.

”I’ve said it all along,” Carpenter said after working eight

scoreless innings in a 1-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on

Monday night. ”I mean, it’s history and we’re professionals. You

move on.”

Carpenter watched from the dugout as pinch-hitter Mark Hamilton

drove in the lone run with an infield hit with two outs in the

eighth, the rookie’s first RBI in 26 pinch at-bats.

”Honestly, my first thought when I got to the bag was we need

to get this game shut down because he deserves this win,” Hamilton

said. ”It’s big for us because we had heard the Brewers lost and

that we can take sole possession of first place.”

Cueto (5-3) allowed six hits in eight innings in his first

appearance against the Cardinals since he spiked Carpenter on the

back and dealt Jason LaRue a career-ending concussion with kicks

during a brawl in Cincinnati Aug. 11. Cueto and Brandon Phillips,

whose bat tap to catcher Yadier Molina’s shin guard had

precipitated the bench-clearing incident, were both booed at every

opportunity.

”How long can you hold stuff, you know what I mean?” Reds

manager Dusty Baker said before the game. ”There’ll be some booing

when they come to our place, too.

”You can’t control that, all you can control is how you play

the game,” he said.

Jon Jay robbed Jay Bruce with a leaping catch at the right field

wall to end the fourth and retreated while battling the sun for

another fine grab on Edgar Renteria’s drive near the warning track

with two men on in the seventh.

”That’s why I practice hard in BP,” Jay said. ”So when these

game situations come up it’s more instinct.”

Carpenter (4-7) has won three straight starts, digging himself

out of the worst hole of his career, and is 13-4 for his overall

agains Cincinnati. The right-hander has permitted just two runs on

18 hits in 24 innings to lower his ERA to 3.74, and settling after

giving up two hits in a 26-pitch first.

”I felt good. Felt strong at the end just like I have,”

Carpenter said. ”Back and forth, back and forth. We were both

pitching well and we were fortunate to get a break.”

Cueto is 3-2 in his last seven starts despite compiling a 1.42

ERA in that span capped by his third career complete game. He

hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of his 11 starts this

season.

”That was as good as you’re going to see. Both of them were

dealing,” Baker said. ”You hate to lose a game like that on a

little jam shot squibber. Johnny was great.”

Cueto had no strikeouts for only the third time in 103 career

starts, two of them in St. Louis, after fanning 25 hitters his

previous four outings in 28 1-3 innings. According to stats

compiled by MLB.com, Cardinals batters swung and missed only four

times.

”It’s about getting late into the game, get seven, eight

innings,” Cueto said. ”If I look for strikeouts, then I throw

more pitches and I don’t stay in the game as long.”

Joey Votto had three singles for his ninth three-hit game and

Scott Rolen singled in the first for his 2,000th hit for

Cincinnati. The Reds, the highest-scoring team in the National

League, managed just three runners in scoring position.

Colby Rasmus opened the eighth with his second hit and advanced

when Molina converted a sacrifice after fouling off two attempts

and then fouling off a two-strike pitch. Rasmus went to third on a

flyout before Hamilton spun a grounder off the end of his bat that

curled just inside the third base line.

Rolen made a sliding stop at third but threw just late to first

as Hamilton took a curious wide turn and belatedly slid headfirst

into the bag. Hamilton is 6 for 26 as a pinch hitter and this was

his first RBI.

Fernando Salas struck out two in a perfect ninth for his 15th

save in 17 chances.

Bruce foiled the Cardinals’ first scoring opportunity, easily

throwing out Skip Schumaker at the plate after fielding Ryan

Theriot’s single to end the third. Schumaker appeared to get a bad

jump on the hit but was waved home by third base coach Jose

Oquendo, celebrating his 48th birthday.

NOTES: The Cardinals have won just two of their last seven at

home. … The Cardinals and Reds are meeting six times in the next

10 games. … Bruce is among the NL leaders with six assists. …

Rasmus’ single in the fifth was his fourth hit in 24 at-bats and

the first that was not a homer. … St. Louis won the series opener

for the first time since beating Philadelphia May 16. … All three

of Cueto’s career complete games have come on the road. … Jay has

hit in all eight of his home starts against the Reds, going 10 for

23. … Cueto had two starts without a strikeout last June,

including a five-inning stint June 1 in St. Louis in which he

allowed eight runs with no decision. He gave up one run in eight

innings and was the winner at home against the Phillies June

28.