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Carpenter, Pujols get Cards off to good start in NLDS

Oct 3, 2006 - 11:27 PM SAN DIEGO (Ticker) -- It was a different venue, but the result was still the same.

Chris Carpenter pitched 6 1/3 strong innings and Albert Pujols took advantage of a second chance to continue his battering of Jake Peavy as the St. Louis Cardinals took Game One of their National League Division Series, 5-1, over the San Diego Padres.

In a rematch of Game One starters from last year's first-round playoff matchup, Carpenter once again outpitched Peavy. In the 2005 NLDS opener, the reigning Cy Young Award winner tossed six scoreless innings and the Cardinals raked Peavy for eight runs and eight hits in 4 1/3 frames in an 8-5 victory that began a three-game series sweep.

The Cardinals also swept the Padres in the 1996 NLDS.

"The other two division series are in the book. It has no relevance," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. "This is a different team for them. We've got a lot of the same guys, but the Padres have shown over and over again, especially here in the last six weeks, they're a tough bunch, very resilient.

"And we've got one, and that's all it is. But, it's nice to get off to a good start, but believe me, the Padres will be tough from here to the end."

With home-field advantage and St. Louis limping into the playoffs with nine losses in its last 12 games, San Diego, which set a franchise record with 20 wins in September, hoped to turn the tables but it had no answers again for Carpenter. Now they will have to rebound in Game Two on Thursday when David Wells takes the hill for San Diego against Jeff Weaver.

"You know going in that the margin for error is not very big," Peavy said of facing Carpenter. "We had some chances to crawl back into it, and just couldn't do it. (Carpenter) was just too much today."

"This (Padres) is a team that has been down-and-out all year. We've had a lot of ups and downs, but the boys are going to come out on Thursday and, I promise you, expect to win. We've got the big boy (Wells) on the mound, and he's been there and done it before, so hopefully he'll give us a lift."

Carpenter allowed a run, five hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. The lone run the Padres could muster was in the fifth when Dave Roberts tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Brian Giles.

"(Carpenter) had good stuff today," Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. "He threw well. We had our chances, but that's why he's the guy who won a Cy Young last year and he's got a chance to get it this year. We knew we had our work cut out going against him."

Pujols hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning to give Carpenter all the support he needed. After Chris Duncan led off with a single, Pujols fouled a 1-1 pitch back behind home plate. Catcher Mike Piazza got a late jump on the ball and, after he scampered back to the backstop, the ball dropped behind him after it may have ticked off the screen.

"It's not an easy play," Bochy said. "It's right by the backstop, and Mike hit the backstop and it seemed like that threw him off a little bit. The wind was wreaking havoc up there and brought it back a little more than he thought."

With another shot, the 2005 MVP then fouled off two more pitches before depositing a cut fastball up-and-over the plate into the center field seats for a 2-0 lead. Pujols is 8-for-15 lifetime against Peavy, with three homers and eight RBI.

"Actually, I thought the (foul) ball was in the stands, but obviously, it came back," Pujols said. "People were saying it hit the net, so I think it hit the net a little bit. It just gave me another chance to hopefully put a good swing like I did, and give the lead to the club."

"Obviously, (that play) needed to get made," Peavy said. "Those are not the easiest plays to make, but obviously it was a big play because it didn't get made, and a few pitches later he hits a 500-foot home run to go up 2-0."

After Pujols' blast, Jim Edmonds singled and Scott Rolen followed by legging out a double on a blooper to right-center field. Edmonds scored on a sacrifice fly by Juan Encarnacion.

Carpenter helped himself with a leadoff single in the fifth. After a fielder's choice and another out, Pujols and Edmonds delivered two-out singles to add another run. An RBI single by Molina in the sixth increased the edge to 5-1 and knocked Peavy from the game.

Peavy was tagged for five runs and 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings.

"Jake is obviously one of the elite pitchers," Carpenter said. "He's going to compete every time he goes out, but so am I. My mindset is to go out and get the Padres' hitters out, and not concern myself with what Jake Peavy is doing. Fortunately for me today, I did."

Carpenter departed after allowing a one-out triple to Russell Branyan and a walk to Mike Cameron in the seventh, but lefthander Tyler Johnson struck out Mark Bellhorn and got Todd Walker on a grounder. Second baseman Ronnie Belliard saved two runs by making a diving stop in short right field and throwing Walker out from his knees.

"When that was hit, I never thought (Belliard) was going to get to the ball," Pujols said. "He had a good jump and caught it and we got out of the inning."

"In the clubhouse, the fellas gave Belliard the game ball for that play," La Russa said.

Johnson got the first two outs of the eighth before Adam Wainwright retired the last four batters to pick up the save.

Roberts went 3-for-4 for the Padres, who went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. The Cardinals were 2-for-5 in those situations.

"We have to regroup," Bochy said. "We've been resilient all year. That's the way we have to be now. We've got to put this behind us and come out and keep grinding. That's all you can do at this point."

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