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Carpenter, Cards clip Pirates

Carpenter, Cards clip Pirates
ST. LOUIS -- For a while Thursday afternoon, it seemed as if the Pirates wouldn't need a hit to beat St. Louis.

A flukey series of events gave the Pirates a one-run lead in the third inning, and they carried it into the seventh -- even though they still hadn't managed a hit against right-hander Chris Carpenter.

"Everybody was trying to get that hit out of the way," third baseman Ramon Vazquez said.

Vazquez broke the spell with a two-out single in the seventh. It wound up being the Pirates' lone hit.

In the bottom of the inning, the Cardinals strung together four singles, producing just enough offense to beat the Pirates , 2-1, at Busch Stadium.

On a gray, rainy day, Carpenter sizzled, allowing just one unearned run on one hit in seven innings. He walked two and struck out seven.

"Everything comes together when you're pounding and attacking the strike zone," said Carpenter, who has won nine consecutive decisions against the Pirates , dating to 2004.

In yesterday's middle innings, Carpenter retired 11 consecutive batters. Vazquez's hit came on Carpenter's 88th pitch.

"He looked like the usual Carpenter," Vazquez said. "He had great stuff. He was just mixing pitches well -- great breaking ball, good slider. He was tough."

Carpenter, the 2005 Cy Young Award winner, started just four games over the past two seasons. He had reconstructive elbow surgery in 2007 and an operation to repair a nerve last November.

"I felt normal again out there," Carpenter said. "This is a nice start. I can build off this and go deeper next time."

Dennys Reyes tossed a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his third career save and his first since 1999. The 31-year-old reliever played for part of 2003 in the Pirates' farm system.

The Pirates took a 1-0 lead with an unearned run in the third inning.

Vazquez drew a leadoff walk. With one out, Ross Ohlendorf bunted. First baseman Albert Pujols fielded the ball, but he threw wildly to second base. Vazquez went to third, and Ohlendorf was safe at first on a fielder's choice.

Nyjer Morgan hit a tapper toward first base, but Pujols' throw pulled catcher Yadier Molina off the plate. Vazquez slid in an instant ahead of Molina's tag, and Morgan reached on the fielder's choice.

"I just beat that play," Vazquez said. "Probably the tip of my foot slipped in before he tagged me. They got the call right."

Vazquez came to the plate in the seventh with two outs and a runner on first base. Carpenter fell behind in the count, 3-1.

"He's one of those guys who's always going to give you one pitch to hit," Vazquez said. "You don't want to miss it."

Carpenter came with a fastball, and Vazquez rolled a single past diving second baseman Skip Schumaker. That was the end of the Pirates' offensive highlights.

"It's tough luck that we ran into him throwing so well," Ohlendorf said.

Tough luck especially for Ohlendorf. With his sinker in top form, the righty pitched six-plus innings and gave up two runs on seven hits.

Most nights, that's good enough.

Ryan Ludwick and Khalil Greene singled off Ohlendorf to start the seventh. Molina singled past second baseman Freddy Sanchez, who couldn't make a diving stop. Ludwick scored, and Greene went to third.

Sean Burnett relieved Ohlendorf (0-1), and Brian Barden lined a pinch-hit, RBI single to center, giving St. Louis the lead.

"We played pretty well until that inning," Vazquez said. "It was one that got away."

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: April 11, 2009

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