ST. LOUIS (AP)—By now, the St. Louis Cardinals expect to win them all.
Chris Carpenter pitched seven innings of six-hit ball and the Cardinals got first-inning homers from Larry Walker and Scott Rolen in beating the San Diego Padres 4-2 Wednesday night for their fifth straight victory.
“Pretty nice, isn’t it?” Carpenter said. “This team doesn’t let up. The most fun I have is sitting around four days and watching them play in between my starts.”
Albert Pujols homered for the third straight game in the eighth and Reggie Sanders had a pair of doubles for the NL Central leaders, who have won 10 of 12 overall. They will go for a sweep of the three-game series against the Padres, in contention for the wild card, on Thursday. The Cardinals are 32-6 against San Diego the last six seasons, including 18-2 at home.
“We just couldn’t get that big hit,” Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. “They are a very explosive team over there. There aren’t any weaknesses.”
The Cardinals are 88-44 overall, the best record in the major leagues, with a 15 1/2 -game lead in the division.
“You play with a smile, you play with confidence,” Walker said. “Nobody lets up and you try and win every game, and you usually succeed or come close to doing that every day.”
Jim Edmonds, who homered seven times in his previous six games, was 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and a walk.
Carpenter (14-5), who missed all of last season with a shoulder injury, tied Matt Morris for the staff lead in victories. He struck out five and walked one, and worked out of a two-on, two-out jam in the seventh when he struck out pinch-hitter Robert Fick.
Carpenter, who is 3-1 with a 1.52 ERA in five starts since the beginning of August, won in his first career appearance against the Padres. The Cardinals are averaging a staff-low four runs in his starts and lost 1-0 at Cincinnati in Carpenter’s last start on Aug. 26.
Jason Isringhausen worked the ninth for his 39th save in 45 opportunities. Isringhausen has saves in his last 12 appearances.
“Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to pitch with a three-run lead,” Carpenter said. “But you’ve still got to continue to execute pitches or they’re going to bite you and come back and get you.”
Pujols walked and Rolen hit an 0-1 pitch over the wall in left-center for his 32nd homer, marking a career best. The homer was his first since Aug. 21 and it hiked his NL-leading RBI total to 115.
Eaton settled down after the early damage, allowing one baserunner per inning in his last five innings. In six innings, he gave up three runs on four hits with six strikeouts and three walks, but lost on the road for the first time since a 13-6 setback at Colorado on May 26.
He wasn’t that impressed with the Cardinals, though.
“They have a good lineup,” Eaton said. “I mean, I hate to burst their bubble but I think I faced a better one in New York against the Yankees.”
Mark Loretta tripled and scored on a groundout by Brian Giles in the sixth for the Padres, and pinch-hitter Jay Payton’s infield hit in the eighth off Ray King cut the gap to 3-2. King got Sean Burroughs to ground out for the third out with runners on first and second.
Padres cleanup hitter Phil Nevin was ejected by plate Brian Gorman for arguing a called third strike to start the fourth. Bochy was not pleased.
“That was the last thing we need is for that to happen,” Bochy said “We don’t need that in the race right now. And, he said it where you could hear it.”
Nevin said he shouldn’t have been tossed.
“I walked back to the dugout and I never said a word at home plate and I never threw anything and I, I don’t know,” Nevin said. “I’d like to ask him what he thinks I said. I said two words when I came back to the dugout.”
The Cardinals have 13 extra-base hits in the first two games of the series, seven of them homers. … Rolen hit 31 homers for the Phillies in 1998. … The Padres are 6-3 on a 10-game trip, one victory off the franchise best for that length. … St. Louis is 17-5 in Carpenter’s last 22 starts dating to April 23.