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Padres eye sixth straight win; Cardinals try to end free fall

Sep 26, 2006 - 2:52 PM San Diego (84-72) at St Louis (80-75) 8:10 pm EDT

ST. LOUIS (Ticker) -- While both the San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals are in good position to make the playoffs, only the Padres are feeling confident about where they stand.

The surging Padres aim to hand the Cardinals their seventh straight loss Tuesday when the teams continue their critical three-game series.

San Diego has won five straight games, including three straight one-run wins, to move two games ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West Division. The Padres' 6-5 victory on Monday sent the Cardinals to their sixth consecutive defeat.

Despite the slump, St. Louis still sits 2 1/2 games ahead of Houston, which has won six straight, in the NL Central.

The Cardinals hope to reduce their magic number of five as they turn to ace Chris Carpenter (15-7, 2.93 ERA), who personally is seeking his second straight Cy Young Award.

The righthander suffered a 6-5 setback vs. Houston on Thursday as he was charged with six runs and nine hits in eight innings. The nine hits matched a season high and the six runs were one shy of a season worst for Carpenter, who had not lost since August 4.

Carpenter will be making his first start of the year against the Padres, who will counter with former Cardinal Woody Williams (10-5, 3.53).

The veteran righthander has gone 3-0 with a 1.02 ERA in his last three starts and is 6-1 over his last eight outings. However, he is just 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA in two career games against the team he pitched for from 2001-04.

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