Chris Carpenter has looked good in two starts during his much-anticipated return from major elbow surgery. His third will likely present his biggest challenge of the season.
The former Cy Young Award winner looks to help the St. Louis Cardinals win their series with the archrival Chicago Cubs on Sunday night at Wrigley Field.Carpenter (0-0, 1.00 ERA) allowed three hits in five scoreless innings of a 6-4, 11-inning win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday. It was his second straight solid start since returning this season after reconstructive surgery on his elbow last year."I don't think he can repeat that the rest of the year but that was vintage," said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa of Carpenter, who has given up a run and eight hits in nine innings in 2008.The right-hander, looking for his first victory since Sept. 16, 2006, tries to help St. Louis (65-54) to its second straight win over the first-place Cubs on Sunday. Carpenter is 7-2 with a 3.07 ERA in 13 starts versus Chicago and 5-1 at Wrigley Field.The Cardinals bounced back from Friday's 3-2, 11-inning loss in the series opener by routing Chicago 12-3 on Saturday.Troy Glaus snapped an 0-for-30 drought against the Cubs (70-47) by hitting two of his team's four homers off Chicago ace Carlos Zambrano. Glaus finished 3-for-5 with five RBIs while Albert Pujols and Skip Schumacher also homered for St. Louis, which is six games back of Chicago in the NL Central and two behind Milwaukee in the wild-card race."For me, as long as I'm having good at-bats and going up there not making bad outs, I'm OK," said Glaus, who has 21 homers and 79 RBIs in his first season with the Cardinals.Pujols is 9-for-19 with three home runs and seven RBIs in his last five contests and is batting .379 (11-for-29) with three home runs against the Cubs this season.In order to secure a second consecutive winning series, St. Louis must solve Cubs All-Star Ryan Dempster (12-5, 2.93), who looks to avoid a third straight losing decision at home.Dempster went 10-0 with a 2.58 ERA in his first 11 starts at Wrigley, but is 0-2 with a 3.57 ERA in his last three. He allowed two runs in five innings of a 2-0 loss to Houston on Monday, a game called in the bottom of the eighth due to severe weather."It was kind of like a wasted day at work," Dempster told the Cubs' official Web site. "It's tough."The former reliever is making his first start since 2005 against St. Louis. He's 2-4 with a 5.66 ERA in eight starts versus the Cardinals.After scoring 11 runs in each of their final two games against the Astros, the Cubs were held to three runs for the second straight outing Saturday."We just got beat," Chicago's Derrek Lee told the Cubs' Web site. "We just have to come back and try to win the series."Alfonso Soriano went 2-for-4 with an RBI and Mark DeRosa homered for Chicago, which is 44-17 at home. Former Cardinals center fielder Jim Edmonds went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts after hitting a pair of homers Friday.Edmonds is 2-for-15 with seven strikeouts versus his former team this season.Soriano is batting .400 (10-for-25) with two homers and seven RBIs in his career versus Carpenter.