The three-time All-Star looks to get the Cardinals a little closer to the NL Central-leading Reds by beating them for a 10th consecutive start Sunday.
Carpenter (14-5, 2.92 ERA) is 4-0 with a 1.61 ERA versus Cincinnati (79-56) this season, extending a run in which he has a 1.25 ERA during his nine-start winning streak.
While the right-hander is 11-3 with a 2.00 ERA in 17 lifetime starts against the Reds, the 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner is 1-2 with a 3.08 ERA in four starts since last beating the Reds 7-3 on Aug. 9. He allowed two runs in seven innings.
St. Louis could use another strong effort from Carpenter as it tries to cut into Cincinnati’s eight-game lead atop the division. The Cardinals are also chasing Philadelphia for the wild card.
They didn’t help themselves Saturday, falling 6-1 for their ninth loss in 11 games. The Cardinals have dropped 14 of 20 since sweeping the Reds in three games at Cincinnati from Aug. 9-11 to gain sole possession of first place in the Central.
Struggles at the plate are a major reason St. Louis tumbled out of first place. The team has a .219 average over the last 11 games while getting held to three runs or fewer in eight of them—losing seven of those..
Production from first baseman Albert Pujols(notes) could give the Cardinals a lift. The reigning NL MVP had a single Saturday to snap a career-worst 0-for-18 slump that may have cost him a shot at the Triple Crown since his batting average dropped nine points to .311. He leads the league with 35 homers and his 96 RBIs are one back of the Reds’ Joey Votto(notes).
While Pujols may be falling out of the Triple Crown race, Votto has improved his chances by hitting .360 with four homers and 17 RBIs over the last 13 games.
Votto has thrived against Carpenter, going 7 for 17 with one homer.
Cincinnati has won 15 of 20 games since being swept by St. Louis and appears headed towards its first division title since 1995.
“We haven’t thought about that big series, we haven’t thought about magic numbers,” left fielder Jonny Gomes(notes) said. “The second half of the season, we’ve kept our heads down and focused on the game at hand.”
Homer Bailey (3-2, 4.92) takes the mound looking to rebound from a pair of frustrating performances. The right-hander hasn’t received a decision in two starts while compiling a 7.15 ERA. He had won the previous two with a 0.69 ERA following nearly three months on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation.
Bailey struggled again Monday, giving up four runs and eight hits in six innings of a 5-4, 10-inning win.
He’s 1-3 with a 6.04 ERA in six starts against the Cardinals, including 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in two meetings at Busch Stadium.