It appears the Cardinals have their ace back as Chris Carpenter threw nine dominating and incredibly gutsy innings against the Orioles to lead the Birds to a 5-1 win.
Colby Rasmus hit a two-run homer in the second and the Cardinals piled on two more tallies in the third to give Carpenter a 4-0 lead. And the 2005 Cy Young Award winner did the rest. He allowed seven hits and a walk in his nine innings while striking out five -- including the last hitter of the game.
Carp won the game in the fifth inning when the Orioles got a couple of runners on base with a pair of singles. With two on and no one out, Carpenter coaxed a ground ball to third that should have been a rally killing double play. Instead, David Freese boxed the ball and ended up getting nobody. The Cardinals ace didn't pout. He didn't fret. Instead he fooled Nick Markakis to ground back to the mound for a forceout at the plate. He then got Adam Jones to pop up to left field and Vladamir Guerrero hit a lazy fly to right to end the threat without a run denting the plate.
Suddenly the Cardinals hitters who had tightened up with Carpenter on the hill earlier this season seem to be rallying around him. And Carpenter's record is nearing the place he deserves it to be at 3-7 with a 4.00 ERA.
Carpenter's character could be summed up in one play. With two outs in the ninth and more than 125 pitches thrown he got a lazy fly ball to left field that should have ended the game. It bounced off Matt Holliday's glove and fell in for a hit. Did Carpenter scowl, yell or glare? Nope. He just went back to business and got one more out.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Carpenter
Cardinals Play of the Game: The third out of the bottom of the fifth to kill the bases loaded and no out rally.
Lowlight: Freese's botched ball at third. The official scorekeeper called the ball a hit. But it was an error in my book. But, the bright side is that the Cardinals rallied around the play and shut down Baltimore the rest of the way.