Cardinals-Pirates Preview

If his last outing is any indication, Chris Carpenter still

appears to have the stuff worthy of the contract extension he’s

about to receive from the St. Louis Cardinals.

The veteran right-hander looks to build on his best outing of

the year when the visiting Cardinals face the Pittsburgh Pirates on

Tuesday night.

Though Carpenter (9-9, 3.75 ERA) is in danger of posting

double-digit losses for the first time since he went 11-11 for

Toronto in 2001, the Cardinals (79-68) announced Tuesday that the

36-year-old has agreed to a $21 million, two-year extension.

Carpenter, the 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner who missed most of

the 2007 and 2008 seasons due to a series of arm injuries, is 93-42

with a 3.10 ERA since joining the Cardinals in 2004.

“I’ve said all along that I wanted to be here,” Carpenter told

the Cardinals’ official website. “Hopefully I’ll be able to be here

for a while.”

St. Louis hopes Carpenter has more outings like Wednesday, when

he tossed a four-hitter in a 2-0 win over Milwaukee for his first

victory since beating the Brewers on Aug. 11. Carpenter went 0-1

with a 5.54 ERA in four starts between wins.

Carpenter is 12-3 with a 2.64 ERA in 19 starts versus Pittsburgh

(67-80), but two of those losses have come in four starts this

year. He allowed four runs in eight innings of a 6-4 victory at PNC

Park on July 22.

He will try to help the Cardinals bounce back after their

five-game winning streak was snapped with a 6-5 loss in the series

opener Monday. Albert Pujols hit his NL-leading 35th homer for St.

Louis, which was ahead 4-3 but lost for the seventh time when

leading after seven innings.

St. Louis fell for the fifth time in 17 games and remained 4 1/2

games behind Atlanta in the wild-card race. The Cardinals dropped

to 6 1/2 back of Milwaukee in the NL Central.

“We weren’t going to go (16-0 the rest of the season),”

outfielder Lance Berkman said. “This wasn’t a death knell by any

means.”

Pujols has hit .404 (19 for 47) with four home runs and 14 RBIs

in his last 12 games. One of his three hits in 11 at-bats against

scheduled Pittsburgh starter Jeff Karstens (9-8, 3.32) left the

park.

After his spot in the rotation was skipped twice because of arm

stiffness, Karstens returns to the mound looking to avoid a third

straight losing start. In his last outing Aug. 28, Karstens allowed

five runs in 3 2-3 innings of a 7-4 defeat to drop to 0-1 with a

6.97 ERA in three starts versus St. Louis this season.

Rookie infielder Pedro Ciriaco hit a tiebreaking double to cap a

three-run eighth inning Monday for the Pirates, who snapped a

three-game skid and remain two defeats shy of a 19th straight

losing season.

Ciriaco, who has gone back and forth from the minors six times

in 2011, is 6 for 19 with six RBIs in 14 games.

“When you’re here, you want to stay here,” he said. “I’m just

trying to be more consistent.”

Neil Walker, who had three hits, is batting .314 with seven RBIs

against St. Louis in 2011. He’s 6 for 16 with two homers versus

Carpenter.