Carpenter, the lone 15-game winner in the NL, has bolstered his credentials for his first Cy Young Award by going 7-0 with a 0.81 ERA over his last eight outings.
The 30-year-old right-hander allowed three runs and five hits over seven innings in an 11-3 victory over San Diego on Thursday to match his single-season career high for wins. It marked the first time he yielded more than one run since June 8 against Boston, the last time he lost.
“My goal is to go out there and get zeros as long as I can and give my team a chance to win,” Carpenter said.
Though Willis is just one win behind Carpenter, he is just 2-4 with a 7.00 ERA over his last six starts. The 23-year-old left-hander has had his problems after the All-Star break throughout his career, going 9-13 with a 4.66 ERA in 31 outings. Willis snapped a personal three-game skid by giving up three hits over seven sharp innings in a 3-0 victory over Pittsburgh on Thursday.
“No question, it was a big game,” Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. “Here was a guy who had some problems for three games. … He really found his rhythm and it was smooth sailing from there.”
Carpenter is 1-2 with a 2.27 ERA in six career starts against the Marlins, and is 7-4 with a 2.64 ERA in 12 starts at Busch Stadium.
Willis, who will also establish a single-season career high with a win, will be facing the Cardinals for the second time in his career. He gave up three runs and five hits over eight innings in a 7-3 victory On Aug. 6, 2003.
Florida has won nine of 12, including a 6-5 victory in the series opener on Monday. Career pinch-hit leader Lenny Harris came through with a three-run go-ahead double in the sixth inning, improving to 6-for-14 this season with runners in scoring position.
For the Cardinals, infielder Abraham Nunez is batting .486 (17-for-35) over his last 10 games after going 0-for-5 on Monday.
“Abe is very smart, he is doing outstanding for us,” St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. “When a guy hasn’t been given a chance, you can’t put labels on them. This is our first chance to watch him in extended play and he’s done pretty well.