Carpenter denied in pursuit of 200 hits; Westbrook throws inning in final outing

News-DemocratSeptember 29, 2013 

— Matt Carpenter's pursuit of 200 hits fell short Sunday in the St. Louis Cardinals' 4-0 win over the Chicago Cubs.

Carpenter, who started at third base, was 0-for-4 in the regular-season finale and finished with 199 hits. Carpenter grounded out three times against Chicago starter Jeff Samardzija, then struck out in the seventh against Hector Rondon.

"You always hear when guys are chasing certain things, it can kind of get to them a little bit," Carpenter said. "I don't know if it did or not, but certainly, that last (hit) was tough to find."

Carpenter was 1-for-10 in the series and 3-for-21 on the homestand. But he finished the season with a .318 average and led the major leagues with 55 doubles and 126 runs scored.

"The way I look at it is, after today, the St. Louis Cardinals have the best record in (baseball). For me, that's the most important thing," Carpenter said. "From an individual standpoint, 200 hits is a cool thing and, obviously, I would have liked to get that. But more importantly, we won a big game today. Now the fun begins."

Matheny was disappointed for Carpenter.

"That didn't go right," he said. "We were leaving him in there until he gets it. I know he was aware of it and was pushing hard. But what a season."

Carpenter was recognized before the game for setting a Cardinals record for most doubles by a left-handed hitter. The late Stan Musial had the previous record of 53 set in 1953.

"It's crazy," Carpenter said. "It's something you can't put into words, what that means. To be mentioned in the same sentence with him is quite an honor and it's something I'm extremely proud of."

One for Westbrook

Jake Westbrook started for the Cardinals and threw a scoreless first in what amounted to a sendoff party.

"It meant a lot, (with) just kind of the way the season ended for me and not pitching as well as I would have liked," Westbrook said. "Just to be able to go out there and put up a zero and get back out there again, it was great to be a part of."

Westbrook (7-8, 4.63 ERA), who turned 36 on Sunday, and the Cardinals have a mutual option for the 2014 season, but the Cardinals are expected to buy him out for $1 million.

Westbrook retired Nate Schierholtz on a fly to right to end the Chicago first and retrieved the ball from Carlos Beltran.

"I knew I was only throwing an inning, so I was prepared for that," Westbrook said. "It was pretty emotional (when) I came out, just for the fact that I don't really know what my future is as far as baseball goes."

Westbrook would love another opportunity with a new team.

"I think so," he said. "I'll get to the offseason and see where I am with my family ... and kind of go from there."

Kelly gets to 10

Joe Kelly relieved Westbrook to start the second and worked 5 1/3 scoreless innings, collecting his 10th win of the season.

Kelly, who walked none and struck out five, lowered his ERA to 2.69 and also scored the only run the Cardinals needed in the third after he had a one-out double to right against Samardzija.

"It felt a little bit awkward," Kelly said of his relief outing that was more like a start. "Other than that, it was just pitching again. I felt like I was commanding my fastball on both sides of the plate. I was trying to keep a high level of focus and attack those guys early."

Molina starts, exits

Catcher Yadier Molina was in the starting lineup but left before Westbrook made his first pitch of the game. Tony Cruz relieved him.

"We didn't necessarily need him to get another at-bat. He didn't necessarily need to catch another pitch," Matheny said of Molina. "We're real happy with what he's been able to do. From here forward, it's all business. There's not going to be a whole lot of opportunity to do things like this and acknowledge (players)."

Molina batted .319 with 44 doubles, 12 homers and 80 RBIs.

Freese rested, ready

Third baseman David Freese did not start the final two games of the regular season, but he said nothing physically is wrong.

"I'm not fighting anything. Just resting," Freese said. "We're ready to go."

Freese, who batted .262 with nine home runs and 60 RBIs in 138 games, called his season "frustrating."

"I was so close to doing so much better. I think that's how I can describe it," Freese said. "But the fact that you helped your team get to the postseason, that's what's important. We're here, and we're playing in October, and that's what it's all about."

At the gate

The Cardinals drew 3,369,769 to Busch Stadium, marking the 17th time in franchise history they have eclipsed 3 million.

It also was the 10th consecutive season with at least 3 million at Busch Stadium II and III.

Contact reporter David Wilhelm at dwilhelm@bnd.com or 239-2665.

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