If you can go eight innings and hold the opposition to two runs or less, we'll take care of the rest.
Fortunately Carpenter was up the task, thank you very much, Lance Berkman. He tossed eight strong innings with nine hits and two runs allowed... And only one of the runs was earned.
It looked like a fifth win would be beyond Carpenter's grasp in the eighth inning when Skip Schumaker made the first of two fielding errors to allow the tying run to get on base and eventually score. The Cardinals got a leadoff walk in the bottom of the inning as they tried to get the lead back while Carp was still the pitcher of record. But Brendan Ryan, who came into the game to pinch run, was picked off of first to leave the Birds with two out and no one on base. Ryan Ludwick saved the day, however, when he cranked a solo homer over the left field boards.
Cardinals rightfielder Ryan Ludwick rounds the bases after hitting a go ahead homer with two outs in the bottom of the eighth Tuesday against Washington. AP photo.
Ryan Franklin came in for the save and had one out and no one on when he coaxed an easy grounder to second base. But Schumaker made his second error to put the tying run on base. Franklin didn't get flustered, however. He got a pair of grounders and brought home a 3-2 and a two-game sweep of the Nationals.
Carpenter got into a couple of jams over the course of the night. But he used his defense well and got a couple of key double plays. On one occasion, Carpenter had Nats on first and third with no one out and got a grounder to David Freese at third. Freese looked the runner at third back -- apparently flustering him -- before going around the horn for a 5-4-3 double play. How a runner can stay put on third on a double play ball is beyond me. I'd rather have first and third with one out than a runner on third with two outs any day of the week. I'm thinking he was shocked when Freese made an initial move toward him and once he took a step back to third, it was all over.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Carpenter, who lowered his ERA to 2.80 with the win.
Cardinals Play of the Game: Ludwick's eighth inning game winner.
Lowlight: Ryan's pickoff.