ST. LOUIS (AP) -- No smudges, no scuffs, just a jammed hand in his
pitching hand -- and it wasn't about to stain Chris Carpenter's
sensational World Series outing.
A brief spasm caused a commotion on the mound, but the
Cardinals' ace was more than OK, throwing the Detroit Tigers a
curve and leading St. Louis to a 5-0 victory Tuesday night for a
2-1 series edge.
"He's so strong between the ears that nothing fazes him,"
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "He's got a good head, good
heart, good guts."
Carpenter used big breaking balls to spin three-hit ball for
eight innings. And with Jim Edmonds hitting a key double and St.
Louis taking advantage of a poor throw, the Cardinals returned
their focus squarely to the field.
Gone were any reminders of the squabbling Kenny Rogers caused
with his smudged left hand in Game 2.
Oh, Rogers heard plenty from the sellout crowd at Busch Stadium
during pregame introductions, as chants of "Cheat-er!" echoed
throughout the ballpark. But that was about the only noise the
Tigers caused in this game.
Staring at catcher Yadier Molina's mitt, Carpenter's
concentration was unshakable.
"Go one pitch at a time," Carpenter said. "All that stuff
around you that's going on doesn't get in your head, so you're not
even thinking about it."
Looking fierce with his three-day beard, Carpenter showed why he
won the NL Cy Young Award last year and is a top contender this
season. He struck out six, walked none and kept the Tigers' trio of
Placido Polanco, Ivan Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson hitless in
Carpenter's lone problem came in the seventh inning. As Polanco
led off by lining out to good friend Albert Pujols, Carpenter
hopped off the mound and looked at his hand.
La Russa, a trainer and the entire St. Louis infield converged
on the mound, peering at Carpenter's bare right hand. Plate umpire
Wally Bell also went out to check as reliever Josh Kinney began
warming up in a hurry.
The problem: Jammed when he batted in the fourth inning, his
hand was a bit balky.
"It felt kind of funny from that point on," he said.
"They think I might have just bruised it in there or something
like that," he said. "We'll deal with it tonight, but I think it
will be fine."
All in all, it certainly drew a lot more attention than Rogers
attracted on the field after a yellowish-brown mark was spotted on
his hand -- he said it was a mix of dirt, spit and resin, while
others claimed it was illegal pine tar.
A moment later, Carpenter was fine. He proved it, too, by
continuing to set down the Tigers to constant cheers.
"He showed everything he could do," La Russa said. "He's got
a lot of weapons."
Carpenter drew his biggest roar when he got a standing ovation
as he came to bat in the eighth. The bottom of the eighth took a
while, though, and Braden Looper relieved him in the ninth and finished
the combined three-hitter.
"We need to swing the bats better, obviously," Tigers manager
Jim Leyland said.
The Tigers had homered in all 10 postseason games before
Carpenter stopped them. And a Detroit team that averaged 5½ runs
per game throughout the AL playoffs has scored a total of five in
the World Series.
It was somewhat of a surprise, too. Carpenter gave up a
season-high seven runs at Detroit in June, and the Tigers' starting
lineup was hitting .356 against him.
"We faced him before and hit him pretty good, but tonight he
pitched great," said Detroit's Carlos Guillen, who was hitting
.714 before going 0-for-3. "He's a Cy Young winner."
Carpenter had waited a long time for this opportunity. He was
injured and missed the entire 2004 postseason, including the
Cardinals' matchup with Boston in the World Series, a Red Sox
Carpenter beat San Diego twice in the first round of this year's
playoffs, but struggled twice against the New York Mets in the NLCS
at Shea Stadium. Back at Busch, where his ERA is doubly as good as
it is on the road, he was in complete control on a chilly evening.
He allowed only one runner past first base. In the third,
Brandon Inge singled and made it to third on a two-out wild pitch,
then catcher Yadier Molina blocked a curve that bounced to keep a
run from scoring. Granderson grounded out to end the inning.
Working on 13 days' rest, Tigers lefty Nate Robertson opened
with three hitless innings. That's about normal for the Cardinals --
they were a weak 23-34 against left-handed starters this season.
Yet it was the lefty-swinging Edmonds who got the key hit
against Robertson, who was pulled after five innings. After that,
Robertson bided his time on the bench talking to Rogers, perhaps
picking up some secrets about pitching in cold weather.
"It's almost like what Kenny did in Game 2, Chris Carpenter did
tonight," Tigers first baseman Sean Casey said. "He was pretty
much lights out."
Edmonds delivered the big hit the Cardinals missed the last time
they held the World Series under the Arch -- in 2004, St. Louis
scored a total of one run in two losses to Boston.
But that was at the old Busch Stadium, now a mere hole in the
ground adjacent to the new ballpark. In this new place, Edmonds
doubled that run total with one swing in the fourth inning.
Preston Wilson, hitting high in the order because he was 5-for-5
lifetime against Robertson, led off with a sharp single for the
Cardinals' first hit. Pujols showed his strength and skill when,
despite being a bit off-balance, lined a double down the
right-field line that hopped into the stands.
When Robertson went to a 2-0 count on Scott Rolen, Leyland went
to the mound. Two pitches later, Rolen walked to load the bases
with no outs.
The crowd in the lower deck was standing, hoping for action. And
after a forceout at the plate, Edmonds came through. He pulled a
hard grounder down the first-base line that a hobbled Casey had no
chance to get, and St. Louis led 2-0.
In the seventh, Zumaya made a poor choice on Pujols' comebacker
with runners on first and second and no outs. Zumaya tried to go to
third base and threw it wide past Inge, and both runners scored.
"He just made a bad fundamental play," Leyland said.
Miner's wild pitch gave St. Louis another run in the eighth.
Polanco, the ALCS MVP, leadoff man Granderson and former AL
MVP Rodriguez are a combined 0-for-34 in these three games. ...
Molina had an adventuresome at-bat his first time up. He flipped
his bat and headed to first on a 3-1 pitch, only to have Bell call
it a strike. Then, he hooked a line drive that hit left-field ump
Randy Marsh in the back in foul territory.