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Carpenter nails down three-hitter against Astros

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Chris Carpenter started ahead of Roger Clemens
in the All-Star Game, then topped him again a few days later.

The St. Louis right-hander outpitched Clemens to become the NL's
first 14-game winner. He tossed a three-hitter and inadvertently
played a major role in his team's big inning, leading the Cardinals
to a 3-0 victory Sunday that completed a three-game sweep of the
Houston Astros.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa picked Carpenter to start for
the NL on Tuesday over more heralded choices such as Clemens.

"I don't concern myself with what Roger does," Carpenter said.
"The only thing I can do is give my team a chance to win and beat
their lineup. Not beat Roger."

In his last eight starts, beginning with a victory at Houston on
June 3, Carpenter (14-4) has allowed only five runs in 64 2/3
innings for a 0.70 ERA. This was his third shutout in that span,
and his fourth of the season. It was also his fourth complete game
this year and 17th of his career.

He's tied with Jon Garland of the White Sox, who won his 14th
game on Sunday, for the major league lead.

"It's always location. You run the ball down in the strike
zone, you're going to get outs," Carpenter said. "I was able to
get strike one to a lot of guys, which puts me on the aggressive
and them on the defensive."

Carpenter went to three three-ball counts and allowed only
singles to Craig Biggio in the first, Brad Ausmus in the third and
Mike Lamb in the fifth. The first two were easily erased.

Lance Berkman followed Biggio's hit with a double-play ball, and
Ausmus was an easy out trying to go for a double. The game lasted
only 1 hour, 59 minutes.

In three losses to Carpenter this year, the Astros have managed
one run and 15 hits in 24 innings.

"He was virtually 0-1 with whatever the percentage was, and
then he used his offspeed stuff and his fastball to get guys out
when they're behind," Morgan Ensberg said after going 0-for-3.
"Textbook baseball. It's not rocket science."

Carpenter struck out nine and walked none, giving him 68
strikeouts and 11 walks in 66 2/3 innings in his last eight
outings.

"Unfairly to him, you kind of expect him to go out and throw
shutouts, and it's not that easy," teammate Scott Rolen said.
"He's making it look easy. You tip your cap to Carp because he's
throwing unbelievable."

Clemens (7-4), the 2004 NL All-Star game starter, entered with a
major league best 1.48 ERA and was almost as good. The exception
was the Cardinals' three-run second, fueled by a pair of walks,
Rolen's RBI double and first baseman Mike Lamb's throwing error
that allowed two runs to score.

Clemens knew the way his former Toronto Blue Jays teammate was
pitching, three runs was way too much of a cushion.

"He just did a number on us," Clemens said. "I don't think we
really posed a threat to him."

With the bases loaded and one out, the .051-hitting Carpenter
hit a tapper to first. Lamb tried to go for a home-to-first double
play but threw wide to the plate. Carpenter was forced to dodge the
throw as the ball sailed to the backstop. Rolen scored from third
and So Taguchi scored from came in from second.

"I had no idea what he was doing," Carpenter said. "I looked
up and he was firing the ball at my chest."

Lamb could have stepped on first and tried for a tag play at the
plate, but manager Phil Garner didn't fault the strategy.

"You go ahead and throw the ball to the plate and if you get
your double play, you get the double play," Garner said. "Where
his mistake was, instead of drilling Carpenter with the ball he
tried to throw it around him."

Clemens lasted seven innings, giving up three runs and five
hits. He struck out only one, getting Carpenter on a called third
strike in the seventh. Both of his walks came in the second,
including a four-pitch pass to load the bases to Mike Mahoney, who
has spent most of the season in the minors and had been 0-for-6.

Only one run was earned, the second in 53 innings on the road
this year against Clemens. The loss was his first in five career
decisions against St. Louis, and his first in eight starts overall
since May 30.

The sweep was the second over the Astros this year by the
Cardinals, who are 9-2 overall against Houston. The Cardinals have
won nine of 11.

Game notes
The Cardinals are 35-12 in Carpenter's starts the last two
years. ... Reggie Sanders, who injured a rib and sprained his right
ankle on Friday, was out of the lineup for the second straight
game. ... The Cardinals have outscored opponents 133-80 the first
two innings. ... The Astros have scored 46 runs in Clemens' 19
starts.