Cards roll over Pirates for Carpenter's 18th win

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Even with a five-run lead in the first inning
against the last-place Pittsburgh Pirates, Chris Carpenter took
nothing for granted.

Carpenter allowed just four this and three runs in eight
innings, becoming the majors' first 18-game winner, as the St.
Louis Cardinals beat the Pirates 8-3 Wednesday night.

"If you go out there relaxed, you're going to give up runs,"
Carpenter said. "You have to go out and continue to compete and
make pitches."

The Cardinals used five singles to jump to the early lead and
knock Pittsburgh starter Kip Wells (7-13) out of the game in the
first inning. That was more than enough for Carpenter (18-4) even
though he was not sharp early.

"If you think you're going to breeze through the game because
you have a five-run lead, it's not going to happen," he said.
"Early on my command with my fastball wasn't very good.
Fortunately, as the game went on I got better. My breaking ball was
pretty good, and that's what got me through for the most part."

Carpenter improved to 10-0 in his last 13 starts, all St. Louis
victories, and 10-0 on the road this season.

"He's been throwing the ball unbelievably," said shortstop
David Eckstein, who had three hits and drove in two runs for the

St. Louis manager Tony La Russa tied Sparky Anderson for third
place on baseball's managerial wins list with his 2,194th career
victory. Only Connie Mack (3,731) and John McGraw (2,763) have won
more games.

"One of the great things about this is that it brings attention
to a great, great man in Sparky," La Russa said. "To be honest,
I've never been in a situation that hasn't been ideal for
generating wins."

Albert Pujols hit his 34th home run and John Rodriguez homered
and drove in three runs for St. Louis, which has won 16 of the last
19 meetings against the Pirates.

The teams engaged in a brief shoving match 90 minutes before the
game, prompting umpires to ask for a pregame meeting between
managers La Russa and Lloyd McClendon. The game was played without
incident, and both managers refused comment after the game.

Pittsburgh reliever Rick White, however, did have something to
say. White brushed back Hector Luna in the seventh inning Tuesday,
one day after Luna's collision with Jose Castillo at second base
resulted in a season-ending knee injury for the Pirates' second

"I think the whole thing has gotten blown out of proportion,"
White said. "(St. Louis pitching coach Dave) Duncan asked me a
question today and probably shouldn't have. If Tony had a question
to ask, then Tony should have come up and asked me. I would have
talked to him.

"Instead, he went through Duncan and Skip (McClendon) didn't
like it too much. And whatever happened, happened."

Eckstein's third hit, a two-out triple to left-center field off
White, scored Luna to give St. Louis a 7-3 lead in the eighth. Luna
had walked with one out and stolen second base. Pujols added a solo
homer in the ninth.

The Pirates' Rob Mackowiak tripled in the seventh inning, his
third hit of the game, and scored on Ty Wigginton's groundout to
make it 6-3.

Rodriguez's one-out home run to center field, off reliever Ryan
Vogelsong, was his fourth of the season and the first in five games
for the Cardinals.

St. Louis used five hits, all singles, to chase Wells, who
retired just two batters. The Cardinals had scored just five runs
in their three previous games.

Eckstein led off with a single down the right-field line and
wound up at third base when the ball was misplayed by Nate McLouth.
Larry Walker followed with an RBI single and moved to third on
Pujols' single. After Jim Edmonds walked to load the bases and
Abraham Nunez struck out, Rodriguez singled to right to make it

Yadier Molina's single to right scored Edmonds. A two-out walk
to Carpenter loaded the bases again, and Eckstein's second single
of the inning drove in Rodriguez.

"There was no command," McClendon said of Wells, who has lost
five of his last six decisions. "No command of his fastball, he
was up in the strike zone with his changeup. It was just a horrible

The Pirates got one run back in the first inning when Chris
Duffy walked, moved to second base on McLouth's infield hit, a
liner off the left heel of Carpenter, and scored on Mackowiak's
single to right field.

Pittsburgh made it 5-2 in the fourth inning. Rob Eldred struck
out but reached base on the wild pitch, then scored on Mackowiak's
double off the wall in left-center field.

Game notes
Walker's first-inning RBI was the 1,300th of his career ...
The Cardinals are 9-3 against Pittsburgh this season ... St. Louis
has just four extra-base hits in the first three games of this
series ... Pujols scored a run for the first time in seven games
... The Pirates have lost six of their last nine games ...
Pittsburgh pitchers have allowed just four homers in the last 11