Carpenter at best vs. Cueto
Posted: Tuesday, July 5, 2011 4:52 pm
By: By R.B. FALLSTROM, AP Sports Writer
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Chris Carpenter hit another high note in his midseason surge.
The St. Louis Cardinals’ pitcher insisted getting the better of Johnny Cueto provided no extra incentive.
“I’ve said it all along,” Carpenter said after working eight scoreless innings in a 1-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Monday night. “I mean, it’s history and we’re professionals. You move on.”
Carpenter watched from the dugout as pinch-hitter Mark Hamilton drove in the lone run with an infield hit with two outs in the eighth, the rookie’s first RBI in 26 pinch at-bats.
“Honestly, my first thought when I got to the bag was we need to get this game shut down because he deserves this win,” Hamilton said of his big hit. “It’s big for us because we had heard the Brewers lost and that we can take sole possession of first place.”
Cueto (5-3) allowed six hits in eight innings in his first appearance against the Cardinals since he spiked Carpenter on the back and dealt Jason LaRue a career-ending concussion with kicks during a brawl in Cincinnati Aug. 11.
Cueto and Brandon Phillips, whose bat tap to catcher Yadier Molina’s shin guard had precipitated the bench-clearing incident, were both booed at every opportunity.
“How long can you hold stuff, you know what I mean?” Reds manager Dusty Baker said before the game. “There’ll be some booing when they come to our place, too.
“You can’t control that, all you can control is how you play the game,” he said.
Jon Jay robbed Jay Bruce with a leaping catch at the right field wall to end the fourth and retreated while battling the sun for another fine grab on Edgar Renteria’s drive near the warning track with two men on in the seventh inning.
“That’s why I practice hard in BP,” Jay said. “So when these game situations come up it’s more instinct.”
Carpenter (4-7) has won three straight starts, digging himself out of the worst hole of his career, and is 13-4 for his overall agains Cincinnati. The right-hander has permitted just two runs on 18 hits in 24 innings to lower his ERA to 3.74, and settling after giving up two hits in a 26-pitch first.
“I felt good. Felt strong at the end just like I have,” Carpenter said. “Back and forth, back and forth. We were both pitching well and we were fortunate to get a break.”
Cueto is 3-2 in his last seven starts despite compiling a 1.42 ERA in that span capped by his third career complete game. He hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of his 11 starts this season.
“That was as good as you’re going to see. Both of them were dealing,” Baker said. “You hate to lose a game like that on a little jam shot squibber. Johnny was great.”
Cueto had no strikeouts for only the third time in 103 career starts, two of them in St. Louis, after fanning 25 hitters his previous four outings in 28 1-3 innings. According to stats compiled by MLB.com, Cardinals batters swung and missed only four times.
“It’s about getting late into the game, get seven, eight innings,” Cueto said. “If I look for strikeouts, then I throw more pitches and I don’t stay in the game as long.”
Joey Votto had three singles for his ninth three-hit game and Scott Rolen singled in the first for his 2,000th hit for Cincinnati. The Reds, the highest-scoring team in the National League, managed just three runners in scoring position.
Colby Rasmus opened the eighth with his second hit and advanced when Molina converted a sacrifice after fouling off two attempts and then fouling off a two-strike pitch. Rasmus went to third on a flyout before Hamilton spun a grounder off the end of his bat that curled just inside the third base line.
Rolen made a sliding stop at third but threw just late to first as Hamilton took a curious wide turn and belatedly slid headfirst into the bag. Hamilton is 6 for 26 as a pinch hitter and this was his first RBI.
Fernando Salas struck out two in a perfect ninth for his 15th save in 17 chances.
Bruce foiled the Cardinals’ first scoring opportunity, easily throwing out Skip Schumaker at the plate after fielding Ryan Theriot’s single to end the third. Schumaker appeared to get a bad jump on the hit but was waved home by third base coach Jose Oquendo, celebrating his 48th birthday.
NOTES: The Cardinals have won just two of their last seven at home. ... The Cardinals and Reds are meeting six times in the next 10 games. ... Bruce is among the NL leaders with six assists. ... Rasmus’ single in the fifth was his fourth hit in 24 at-bats and the first that was not a homer. ... St. Louis won the series opener for the first time since beating Philadelphia May 16. ... All three of Cueto’s career complete games have come on the road. ... Jay has hit in all eight of his home starts against the Reds, going 10 for 23. ... Cueto had two starts without a strikeout last June, including a five-inning stint June 1 in St. Louis in which he allowed eight runs with no decision. He gave up one run in eight innings and was the winner at home against the Phillies June 28.