Carpenter gets stingy as Cards subdue Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers bunched nine hits off Chris Carpenter. Not much to show for it against the stingy Cardinals ace, though.
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Carpenter got the key outs and relied on a defense that turned four double plays to wrap up an undefeated month, and Brendan Ryan matched a career high with four hits in a 6-1 victory on Monday night. He has allowed one run or fewer in nine of 16 starts.
"I could have been better, but I've said all along I'll take a win any way I can get it," Carpenter said. "My command was kind of sloppy with everything but I was able to make good pitches when I had to."
Matt Holliday lined an RBI double off the base of the center-field wall in his first home at-bat and Mark DeRosa homered for the fifth time in 13 games with St. Louis. The third newcomer to the lineup, Julio Lugo, had an RBI infield hit in the second to help the Cardinals shake off a 2-5 trip that knocked them out of the NL Central lead.
"You've got to be on your game," losing pitcher Randy Wolf said. "If you're off, they're going to punish you."
The Cardinals are 15-3 at home the last six seasons against the Dodgers, including 9-2 at 4-year-old Busch Stadium. The NL West-leading Dodgers are a major league best 62-37, but lost for the third time in four games after going 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position and 3 for 15 with men on base while wasting 11 hits overall.
"A base hit here or there makes it different," manager Joe Torre said. "We certainly weren't shut down, we just didn't get key hits."
Carpenter (9-3) worked seven-plus innings and allowed only Rafael Furcal's third-inning sacrifice fly. Manny Ramirez hit two of the Dodgers' double-play balls against the right-hander, doubling his season total - and each coming after getting roundly booed as he stepped to the plate.
Ramirez was perhaps booed the loudest after he doubled to lead off the eighth for the Dodgers' first extra base hit, chasing Carpenter.
"He was great," Ramirez said of Carpenter. "He beat us."
Carpenter was 4-0 with a 1.75 ERA in July after dropping three of his last four starts in June, this despite allowing nearly a hit per inning. He qualified for the ERA race for the first time after missing time with a shoulder injury, and his 2.19 ERA is second in the NL.
Holliday received a standing ovation that lasted about a half-minute before his first at-bat with a runner on and two outs in the first. Then he froze center fielder Matt Kemp with a liner off a 2-2 pitch that made him the first Cardinals player to double in his first four games in statistics dating to 1954.
"The fans here are the best in baseball, so I wasn't surprised," Holliday said. "You just try to get in there and concentrate on having a good at-bat."
The Cardinals added four in the sixth off three relievers for a 6-1 lead, including an RBI single by Rick Ankiel and Ryan's two-run, two-out double off Guillermo Mota. The four-hit game was the second of Ryan's career and first since June 10 at Florida.
Cardinals right fielder Ryan Ludwick made nice plays on consecutive at-bats to help Carpenter through a tough fourth, making a diving catch on Casey Blake's sinking liner and leaping at the wall to deprive James Loney of extra bases. The Dodgers left the bases loaded when Wolf struck out on three pitches.
Wolf worked six or more innings for the sixth straight start and allowed two runs on seven hits.
NOTES: Ryan Franklin got four outs for his 23rd save, starting with a bases-loaded groundout by Kemp to end the eighth. Six of his saves have lasted more than an inning. ... Wolf has not won consecutive starts all season. ... Juan Pierre is 2 for 16 as a pinch hitter with no RBIs after grounding out to start the seventh. ... Paid attendance of 43,756 was the Cardinals' 15th sellout of the season. ... Carpenter hit two batters after plunking three total in his first 15 starts. ... Dodgers reliever Hong-Chih Kuo worked a perfect eighth against the top of the order after coming off the 60-day DL from an elbow injury. ... Rafael Furcal was 3 for 4 and is 12 for 30 during a seven-game hitting streak.