for this game

Cardinals limp into playoffs as Carpenter faces Padres

Oct 3, 2006 - 2:16 PM St Louis vs. San Diego 4:09 pm EDT National League Division Series Game One

SAN DIEGO (Ticker) -- As glad as the St. Louis Cardinals are to be in the playoffs, they had better shape up quickly or their stay will not be a long one.

The Cardinals turn to ace Chris Carpenter for a much-needed dose of confidence Tuesday when they visit the San Diego Padres in Game One of the National League Division Series.

St. Louis won the NL Central Division for the third straight year despite nearly completing one of the biggest collapses in baseball history. The Cardinals held an 8 1/2-game lead on September 20 before losing seven straight games and nine of their last 12 contests to almost squander the division title to the Houston Astros.

On the last day of the regular season, the Cardinals opted to rest Carpenter (15-8, 3.09 ERA), who has a shot to win his second straight Cy Young Award. The righthander won five straight decisions before getting rocked for 12 runs in losing each of his last two starts.

His most recent outing came against the Padres last Tuesday, when he allowed 12 hits - by far his season high - in seven innings of a 7-5 defeat.

Carpenter is 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA in three career postseason starts, all coming last season.

The Padres, who took four of six meetings with the Cardinals this season, will counter with ace Jake Peavy (11-14, 4.09). The righthander is coming off a superb month in which he went 4-1 with a 2.43 ERA in six starts.

Peavy will try and continue the momentum generated by San Diego, which won nine of its final 11 regular-season games.

The Padres clinched a playoff berth Saturday and captured the NL West on Sunday. They have home-field advantage in a playoff series for the first time since losing to the Detroit Tigers in the 1984 World Series.

Appearing in the postseason in consecutive years for the first time in franchise history, San Diego was swept in three games in the NLDS by St. Louis last season.

Game Two will be played here Thursday.

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