Carpenter looks to win his fourth start in a row Wednesday in the Cardinals’ series finale against the Reds at Busch Stadium.
Carpenter (11-3, 2.26 ERA) earned the win in Friday’s 6-4 victory over Pittsburgh, but wasn’t his overpowering self. The right-hander gave up seven hits and four runs through the first three innings - as many runs as he’d allowed in 32 innings over his previous four starts combined - before settling down to give up only two singles and no runs over the next five innings for the NL Central-leading Cardinals (63-52).
“He gave them something to hit and they didn’t miss them,” St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said.
Despite giving up his most runs since yielding a season-high six in a June 30 loss to San Francisco, Carpenter improved to 6-0 with a 2.04 ERA in his last seven outings. Carpenter, who has the majors’ second-best ERA behind the Giants’ Tim Lincecum(notes) (2.20), is trying to win four consecutive starts for the first time since Aug. 24-Sept. 8, 2005.
Carpenter has had no trouble beating the Reds lately, posting a 0.72 ERA in winning his last three starts against them, including two this season. The 2005 NL MVP threw a complete-game, three-hitter in a 3-1 home win June 4 and gave up one run and five hits in seven innings of a 10-1 victory on July 5 in Cincinnati.
The Cardinals came up short against Cincinnati (49-63) on Tuesday, losing 5-4 to snap a four-game winning streak.
Albert Pujols(notes) hit his major league-leading 37th homer and Matt Holliday(notes) singled three times, but St. Louis lost for the fourth time in 14 games. The Cardinals have not dropped back-to-back contests since July 25 and 26.
The Reds, meanwhile, continued their turnaround, winning for the fourth time in six games after losing 14 of their previous 15.
Alex Gonzalez matched his career high with four hits after batting .179 in his previous 13 games. Building on Tuesday’s performance won’t be easy for Gonzalez, who is 3 for 18 (.167) lifetime versus Carpenter.
Bailey allowed five runs and nine hits - including two homers - in six innings of Friday’s 10-5 win over San Francisco, but did not get a decision. The right-hander has yielded at least five runs in four of his last five outings and in 15 of his 26 career starts.
Bailey did have his best start of the season against the Cardinals on July 3, allowing two runs and three hits in 7 1-3 innings, but did not receive a decision in Cincinnati’s 7-4 loss. He had a 14.73 ERA in losing his first two career starts versus St. Louis.