San Francisco (53-67) at St. Louis (76-45)

Cloudy Currently: St. Louis, MO, US
Temp: 63° F
  • Game info: 8:10 pm EDT Fri Aug 19, 2005
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Chris Carpenter is pulling away in the NL Cy Young Award race.

He’ll look to become the majors’ first 18-game winner as the St. Louis Cardinals open a three-game series with the visiting San Francisco Giants.

Carpenter has won nine straight decisions, including six complete games during that stretch, to up his record to a major league-best 17-4.

“I just try to continue to go out and give my team a chance to win,” Carpenter said humbly. “With the defense and offense we have playing behind me, you’re going to win a lot of ballgames.”

The 30-year-old right-hander went the distance against Saturday, pitching the Cardinals to a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

Carpenter threw an eight-hitter for his major league-leading sixth complete game, striking out eight and walking none to lower his ERA to 2.25—second best in the NL. He also ranks third in the league with 169 strikeouts.

“He pitched nine innings against a tough offensive club—that’s dominating,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. “No disrespect to anybody in either league who’s doing great, but there’s nobody greater than Chris. He’s clutch.”

St. Louis hopes to bounce back from a 9-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday.

The Cardinals failed to complete the sweep despite the return of catcher Yadier Molina, who had been sidelined with a broken left hand since getting hit by a pitch on July 7.

The Giants are rolling after winning three of four against the Cincinnati Reds.

San Francisco also couldn’t complete the sweep, suffering a 4-2 loss on Thursday.

Giants closer Armando Benitez made his first appearance since injuring his right hamstring on April 26. Benitez, who needed surgery to repair two torn tendons, got the final two outs in the eighth inning.

“I felt good,” he said. “I was really happy to be out there.”

Giants manager Felipe Alou liked what he saw.

“The biggest thing is Benitez pitching,” he said. “He worked his butt off to come back. I have a lot of respect for that guy and how he worked after that injury.”

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Starting Pitchers

B. Hennessey HOU vs. C. Carpenter STL
5-8 Record 21-5
4.64 ERA 2.83
64 K 213
52 BB 51
1.51 WHIP 1.06