for this game

Cardinals turn to Carpenter for Game Two; Mets go with Maine

Oct 13, 2006 - 12:56 PM St Louis at NY Mets 8:05 pm EDT National League Championship Series Mets lead, 1-0

FLUSHING, New York (Ticker) - After a lethargic performance in Game One of the NLCS, the St. Louis Cardinals need to get well quickly. Chris Carpenter might be just what the doctor ordered.

Carpenter takes the mound for the Cardinals when they face the red-hot New York Mets on Friday in Game Two of the National League Championship Series.

After losing a 2-0 decision in the series opener Thursday, St. Louis needs to get its offense going in a major way. But in case the bats don't come around, Carpenter's job is to shut down the surging Mets, who have won eight straight games, dating to the regular season.

Carpenter (2-0, 2.02 ERA) was strong in both of his starts during the NLDS. The righthander, who is a candidate to win his second straight Cy Young Award, has allowed a total of three runs in 13 1/3 innings this postseason. He is 4-0 with a 2.10 ERA in five lifetime playoff starts.

"I still feel good. I still feel strong," said Carpenter, whose scheduled start was bumped up a day from Game Three so that he could pitch on normal rest. "My body feels good. Everything feels good, and I think once you get to this point in the season, it doesn't really matter."

One of the few NL teams that Carpenter has not fared well against in his career is the Mets. He has not faced them this season, but is just 1-2 with a 4.24 ERA in three previous starts vs. New York in his career.

While the Cardinals are turning to a pitcher who never has lost in the postseason, the Mets will counter with a rookie without a playoff victory on his resume.

John Maine (0-0, 2.08) was forced into the rotation following injuries to veteran righthanders Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez. But the 25-year-old Maine did not seem rattled in his postseason debut on October 4, when he held the Los Angeles Dodgers to one run in 4 1/3 innings in Game One of the NLDS.

"I was nervous (in the NLDS) and you still get some butterflies now," Maine said. "But I saw what the playoff atmosphere was like and I know what to expect now. It gets crazier and crazier the farther you go, but I kind of know what to expect."

Maine's only career outing against the Cardinals was not a pretty one. He surrendered a season-high seven runs - including two home runs - in five innings of an eventual 8-7 triumph on August 22.

New York hopes Maine can duplicate the effort of Tom Glavine, who pitched seven outstanding innings in Game One. The veteran lefthander yielded just four singles and a pair of walks and still has not yielded a run this postseason.

"I know John is going to be nervous," Glavine said. "I've been doing this for a long time and I still get nervous. He has every right to get nervous. But certainly, we feel he's going to go out there and do what's done all year long which is channel that and give us a chance to win."

Carlos Beltran took care of the offense for the Mets on Thursday, belting a two-run homer off Jeff Weaver in the sixth inning. Carlos Delgado and Paul Lo Duca each contributed two hits for the NL East champions.

"Every time you make it to the postseason, it means your team plays well and you contribute to help the team win," Beltran said. "It makes me feel happy that I was able to come through."

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