If there were any concern about Chris Carpenter’s health, the right-hander cleared it up in his last start.
Carpenter had missed his scheduled start Aug. 15 due to tightness in his lower back. But he returned Friday to help the Cardinals complete a day-night doubleheader sweep of Pittsburgh with a 5-3 victory. The veteran right-hander threw 108 pitches, 69 for strikes, and limited the Pirates to three runs and seven hits through seven innings.
Carpenter also matched his season high with nine strikeouts.
“I feel like my arm strength is continually getting stronger,” he said. “I know that sounds stupid, but it is. I feel strong. I feel like my stuff is getting better. Now it’s just a thing to be able to keep myself back and relaxed and continue to pitch.”
Carpenter, who has had an injury-plagued six-year career, surpassed his previous career best of 12 wins established in 1998 with Toronto. He is tied with Matt Morris for the team lead in victories, and he also has a club-low 3.74 ERA.
Carpenter is 4-0 with a 3.38 ERA since the All-Star break.
“We have to have him,” Cardinals third baseman Scott Rolen said of Carpenter. “There’s no question.”
The Cardinals overcame a three-run deficit Wednesday to win 6-5. They improved the majors’ best road record to 41-20.
Pujols is batting .403 (31-for-77) with seven homers and 21 RBIs against the Reds this year.
Jimenez, who homered for the third straight game, went 4-for-4, tying a career high for hits. He is 6-for-14 (.429) over his last three games.
This will be the final game of the season between St. Louis and Cincinnati.