As bad as Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter's luck was during the first three months of the season, it is good now.
Carpenter pitched his posterior off Monday against the Reds, matching zeros with Cincinnati starter Johnny Cueto for eight innings before giving way to a pinch hitter. Colby Rasmus singled in the bottom of the eighth and moved to second and then third on productive outs by Yadier Molina and Skip Schumaker.
Rookie first baseman Mark Hamilton pinch hit for Carpenter and with a two strike count squibbed a ball at Cincinnati Gold Glove third baseman Scott Rolen that had more English on it than a copy of War and Peace. The ball bounced two feet fair about four feet in front of third base and took a left turn right over the top of the bag. Rolen dove to get the ball and then threw from his knees as Hamilton dove headlong for the bag, just getting there before the peg.
Rasmus scored on the play and closer Fernando Salas, who seems to have really settled in lately, retired the Reds 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth to move the Cardinals back into first place all alone. The Brewers, who were winning over Arizona at one point 6-1, ended up losing their game 8-6.
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Since their sweep of the Cardinals earlier this season, the Reds are 20-27 and have sunk to fourth place in the National League Central Stadings behind the Pirates.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Carpenter. He's won three dominating starts in a row and seems to have ironed out the flaw in his mechanics that took the edge off his stuff earlier this season. People who think pitching duels are boring need to watch Carpenter pitch when he's on because it's a thing of beauty.
Cardinals Play of the Game: Hamilton's hit won the game, but I have to give the tip of the Cheap Seats cap to outfielder Jon Jay who potentially saved a home run with a leaping catch of a long liner off the bat of Jay Bruce at the right field wall in the top of the fourth.
Lowlight: The Birds might have made things a little easier on Carpenter if they wouldn't have hit into three double plays, killing every rally they had before the eighth inning. But all's well that ends well...