Chris Carpenter needed only 1 hour and 59 minutes on Sunday to help the Cardinals to a 3-0 win over the Astros. Carpenter (14-4) tossed a complete-game, three-hit shutout and became the first 14-game winner of the season—Jon Garland of the White Sox won his 14th game later in the day. Roger Clemens (7-4) was touched for three runs—one earned—off five hits through seven innings.
In the second at-bat of the game, Craig Biggio earned a single off Carpenter, but Lance Berkman followed up with a grounder to shortstop and the Cardinals turned a double play to end the inning.
Brad Ausmus was responsible for the second hit of the game, when he singled to right field, but was thrown out at second base by Larry Walker.
Mike Lamb hit a one-out single in the fifth inning off Carpenter, but he was left stranded by former Cardinal Orlando Palmeiro and Adam Everett, who lined out and grounded out respectively. After that, no Astro reached base the rest of the day.
At the plate, St. Louis scored all three of its runs in the second inning. Larry Walker drew a one-out walk to start the threat and was doubled home by Scott Rolen. So Taguchi was up next and reached on an infield single. Catcher Mike Mahoney, who made his first major league start since 2002 on Saturday, drew a walk to load the bases.
Carpenter, and his .051 average, stepped up to the plate and grounded to first, but a throwing error allowed Rolen and Taguchi to score and the Cardinals led 3-0.
Carpenter finished with nine strikeouts, no walks and lowered his ERA to 2.34. In his last eight starts, Carpenter has given up five runs over 64 2/3 innings and has an ERA of 0.70 in that stretch.
The win wrapped up a three-game sweep of the Astros and pushed the Cardinals to a record of 59-32—27 games over .500. They lead the second-place Cubs by 13 games in the National League Central.
Cardinals’ left fielder Reggie Sanders suffered a hairline fracture in his right leg after a collision with center fielder Jim Edmonds on Friday night. He’s expected to miss four-to-six weeks.