The veteran right-hander won his 14th game Sunday, tossing a three-hitter in 3-0 victory over the Houston Astros.
In his last eight starts, Carpenter has allowed just five runs over 64 2-3 innings for a 0.70 ERA. He has three shutouts in that span, and four this season.
“Unfairly to him, you kind of expect him to go out and throw shutouts, and it’s not that easy,” St. Louis third baseman Scott Rolen said of St. Louis’ staff ace. “He’s making it look easy. You tip your cap to Carp because he’s throwing unbelievable.”
While St. Louis has taken control of the NL Central, the Cubs continue to hover around the .500 mark.
“We don’t need to make a statement,” Cubs manager Dusty Baker said of the series with St. Louis. “The only statement we need to make is to win. We’ll still be nine games back. That’s no statement. The Cardinals are a good team. They’re a tough team. But I’ll put it like this: They want it, and we need it.”
Carlos Zambrano will pitch the opener for Chicago, hoping to duplicate his last performance against the Cardinals. On April 20, he allowed just one run and five hits over 8 2-3 innings of a 3-1 win at St. Louis.
“He’s got as good stuff as anybody in the game,” Rolen said of Zambrano. “The ball is going all over the place. Sinker, splitter, he throws 95 to 97 (mph) with reckless abandon. You really have to focus on centering the ball off of Zambrano.
“He knows where he’s throwing it, but his ball does some strange things.”