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Cards' Carpenter tosses two-hit CG shutout vs. Dodgers

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The National League's best offense had no luck
against Chris Carpenter. The St. Louis Cardinals' right-hander had
stuff reminiscent of his 2005 Cy Young season.

"It could have been any team," Carpenter said after throwing a
two-hitter in a 5-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday
night. "If I make good pitches like I did against anybody, I'm
going to get outs.

"I was making pitches all night long."

David Eckstein had four hits to help the Cardinals win their
fifth straight and beat the Dodgers for the fourth time in a row
dating to last season. Chris Duncan hit a two-run homer off Derek
Lowe (7-6) in the third inning for the Cardinals, who had needed
extra innings to win their previous three games, including a
14-inning victory over the Dodgers on Thursday in the series
opener. Juan Encarnacion added a solo homer in the eighth off Danys
Baez.

"I don't feel like we're red hot or anything," manager Tony La
Russa said. "We've won three extra-inning games and a tough game
in front and behind, but I know what we're capable of, and we're
capable of putting enough wins together to have a chance to play in
October."

Eckstein is 11-for-26 (.423) for his career against Lowe.

Carpenter (8-4) threw his 10th career shutout and 21st complete
game, the first of each this season. He struck out seven and hit a
batter, requiring only 101 pitches for the team's first complete
game shutout since Jason Marquis won at Washington on Aug. 27,
2005.

"He was so sharp with everything and relentless and Cy
Young-like," La Russa said. "I don't know if he's pitched
better."

The Dodgers entered the game batting .283, but have scored only
two runs in the last 20 innings.

"We felt good about the way we ran the bases," manager Grady
Little joked. "We only left two on."

Rafael Furcal lined a single over Eckstein's head at shortstop
to lead off the fourth, and Carpenter retired the next 14 hitters
before Cesar Izturis singled up the middle with two outs in the
eighth. Nomar Garciaparra was 0-for-3 with three groundouts, ending
a 22-game hitting streak during which he batted .360.

"He could probably still be out there pitching right now,"
Lowe said. "It really wasn't much of a problem for him."

The biggest problems for Carpenter came when he slipped and fell
at the plate before striking out in the sixth, and when half of
Andre Ethier's broken bat helicoptered over his head on a groundout
in the eighth.

"I lost it for a second and I knew it was coming towards me,"
Carpenter said. "I actually had no idea, so I just fell down and
ducked, just in case."

Carpenter threw a one-hitter on June 14, 2005, at Toronto. He
received a standing ovation from a sellout crowd of 45,704 after
his sacrifice bunt in the eighth.

Lowe gave up four runs and eight hits in the first three innings
before settling down. He allowed three hits and no runs over his
last three-plus innings. Lowe, who struck out five and walked one,
is 1-3 in his last four starts, allowing 22 runs and 38 hits in 21
innings.

The top of the Cardinals' lineup, Eckstein and Duncan, were a
combined 7-for-8 against Lowe. Duncan tied his career best with
three hits.

"This lineup is extremely tough, and I think to have success
you have to get Eckstein out, and I couldn't do it one time," Lowe
said. "I tried everything. I threw every pitch I had."

Eckstein, Duncan and Albert Pujols started the bottom of the
first with singles to put the Cardinals ahead. Eckstein singled to
open the third and scored on Duncan's fourth homer, and first since
May 21. Encarnacion added an RBI single in the inning for a 4-0
lead.

Game notes
Eckstein's four-hit game was his first since Sept. 30,
2005, against Cincinnati. He leads the NL with 38 multi-hit games,
one more than Florida's Miguel Cabrera. ... The Cardinals played 36
innings over the previous three games and had gone to extra innings
in six of the previous 16 games. ... Garciaparra's hitting streak
was the second-longest in the majors this year behind Edgar
Renteria's 23-game run for Atlanta to start the season. ...
Encarnacion entered the game in a 1-for-18 slump. ... The Cardinals
have never played four consecutive extra-inning games.