Chris Carpenter continued his John Tudor impression Saturday night, pitching a gem against the Reds to win his fourth game in a row after starting the season 1-7.
It was a historic night for the Cardinals ace who whiffed seven Reds to scale the Cardinals all-time strikeout list. He passed Hall of Famer Jesse "Pop" Haines for fifth place with 985. He's one behind Matt Morris for fourth place. Bob Forsch is third at 1,079. Dizzy Dean is second at 1,097 and then Carpenter is going to have to get busy is he hopes to top Bob Gibson's team record of 3,117 punchouts.
The big righty, for the record, is the all-time Redbirds leader in strikeouts to walk ratio with 3.63 strikeouts for every free pass. Bob Tewksbury is second with a 3.27 ratio and Adam Wainwright is third at 2.91.
Speaking of dramatic turnarounds... Remember when we were all talking about Albert Pujols struggles? He homered for the third time in four games Saturday for his 20th longball of the year. The three-run shot gave the Cardinals a 3-1 lead and the team never looked back.
The only time the Birds were really threatened came in the eighth inning when Daniel Descalso made an error on a routine grounder to start the inning and then, with two outs, Nick Punto fielded a ground ball to third -- then air mailed it over Pujols' head at first base. Carpenter was able to get a strikeout to end the inning. But the extra pitches he was forced to throw -- coupled with the fact that he was due to bat in the ninth -- knocked him out of the game.
It was awesome to watch Carpenter stand up to the pressure and pick up his teammates. It was also a relief to see Fernando Salas, who blew the save with two outs in the bottom of the ninth Friday, bounce back with a confident save.
The bad news is that manager Tony La Russa said after the game that he expects Punto to be deactivated because his arm isn't sound.
Jon Jay was 3-for-4 on the night and drove in the fourth St. Louis run in the seventh to raise his batting average to .310 on the season. LaRussa said he planned to start Colby Rasmus in center on Sunday but, after Jay's big night, he's re-thinking that idea.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Carpenter
Cardinals Play of the Game: Pujols' homer
Lowlight: The apparent loss of Nick Punto