While Carpenter looks to end his slide, Zambrano will try to continue his run and slow down red-hot Albert Pujols(notes) as the Cardinals try for a three-game sweep of the visiting Chicago Cubs on Sunday.
Pujols, who recently went a career-worst 105 at-bats without going deep, hit his 11th and 12th home runs Saturday - including the game-winner with two outs in the 12th inning to give St. Louis (35-25) a 5-4 win over Chicago.
“You can do a lot of good things in two months and you can struggle in two months,” Pujols said. “Hopefully, it’s my time now.”
Pujols’ ninth career walk-off home run extended the Cubs’ losing streak to a season-worst five games. He also went deep during Friday’s series-opening 6-1 win and now has 50 home runs against Chicago - his highest total against any team.
“I’m not in the habit of walking people with two out and nobody on,” Cubs manager Mike Quade said. “I understand how good this guy is, so we’ll have to rethink that a little bit.”
Carpenter (1-5, 4.52 ERA), who despite posting a solid 3.30 ERA has yet to record a home win in five tries this season - his longest such stretch during his tenure with the Cardinals - will look to add to the Cubs’ woes.
The right-hander earned his only victory of the season during a 6-4 win May 10 at Wrigley Field despite allowing a career-worst 13 hits. He has since gone 0-3 with a 4.91 ERA.
Carpenter labored over five innings of Tuesday’s 4-3 win over San Francisco, allowing two runs and seven hits over five innings with a season-best eight strikeouts.
Carpenter had surrendered a total of two runs over five home outings spanning 39 innings against Chicago (23-33) prior to compiling a 5.84 ERA and losing both starts last year.
In contrast, Zambrano (5-2, 4.23) has gone 7-0 with a 1.41 ERA over his last 11 starts in St. Louis - never allowing more than two runs - since losing 2-0 there May 19, 2003, despite allowing one unearned run.
The right-hander is coming off one of his strongest efforts of the season, limiting Houston to one run and seven hits over eight innings of Tuesday’s 7-3 loss.
While Zambrano has dominated the Cardinals on the mound at Busch Stadium, he also owns a career .308 average against them and is 8 for 16 off Carpenter.
Carpenter won’t have to worry about facing injured outfielders Alfonso Soriano(notes) and Marlon Byrd(notes), who are batting a combined .338 against him, but Aramis Ramirez(notes) could return to the lineup Sunday.
Ramirez, 23 for 64 against Carpenter, received seven stitches in his left upper lip after being hit in the face by a ball Wednesday and has not played since. Ramirez’s 26-game hitting streak against the Cardinals is the longest since 1946.
Cardinals shortstop Ryan Theriot(notes), who spent the first six-plus seasons of his career with the Cubs, went 1 for 5 Saturday to extend his hitting streak to 18 games - the longest active run in the majors. He is batting .342 over that span.
Lance Berkman(notes), who had been mired in a 3-for-27 slump over his previous 11 home games prior to this series, is 3 for 9 with a home run and four RBIs over the weekend. Berkman, however, is 11 for 71 (.155) against Zambrano.