Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Carpenter, Pujols, Ankiel Shine as Cards Win Series Opener vs. Dodgers

Chris Carpenter (13-3) gave up only 2 runs on 5 hits over 8 innings and recorded 8 stikeouts to lead the Cardinals to a 3-2 win over the Dodgers Monday at Dodger Stadium. Carpenter outpitched Dodgers minor leaguer Charlie Haeger, who was only pitching his second career start and his first with the Dodgers. Haeger, a knuckleballer, was baffling Cardinals batters. and gave up only 5 hits and no walks in 7 quality innings. The problem for Haeger was that he was pitching against Chris Carpenter.

Carpenter had a shaky start, and quickly loaded the bases in the bottom of the first with one out. Casey Blake then hit a sacrifice fly to Ryan Ludwick to score Rafael Furcal, which made it Dodgers 1, Cardinals 0. Ludwick, though, instead of trying to get Furcal out at home, threw to third, and threw out Andre Ethier, who had tagged up and was attempting to get to third base. Mark DeRosa caught Ludwick's strike and tagged out Ethier before he reached third base. Suddenly, what looked like a big inning in the making for the Dodgers was over.

Albert Pujols tied the game in the fourth with his 39th home run of the season, which leads the majors.

The Dodgers took back the lead on Carpenter however in the fifth when James Loney singled in Matt Kemp, who had doubled to open the fifth. At that point the Dodgers led 2-1.

Everything came unglued for Haeger in the seventh when with one out Haeger hit Ryan Ludwick with an errant knuckleball and then gave up a towering home run to Rick Ankiel, his ninth of the season. The Cardinals led 3-2 and would never relinguish their lead.

Carpenter continued to pitch well and looked his best in the 8th inning. Coming in to relieve Carpenter in the ninth, Trever Miller pitched only needed one pitch to get out Andre Ethier, who grounded out to Albert Pujols. Ryan Franklin then came in and forced Manny Ramirez to pop out and then Casey Blake flew out to Colby Rasmus to end the game. Blake's shot by all accounts could have left the park, but the wind was clearly blowing in and the game of course was at night. If it was a day game, the game probably would have been tied, but the ball stayed in the park and the Cardinals won 3-2.

The Cardinals, who have won 9 of 10 and 15 of 19, now boast a 68-52 record, and are now six full games in front of the second place Chicago Cubs, who blew a 1-0 lead in the ninth to lose to the San Diego Padres 4-1 in San Diego.

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