Series: Game 3 of 4

St. Louis leads 3-0 (as of 7/6)

Game 1: Monday, July 4
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Game 2: Tuesday, July 5
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Game 3: Wednesday, July 6
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Game 4: Thursday, July 7
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Cardinals 2

(54-30, 27-14 away)

Diamondbacks 1

(41-45, 20-23 home)

    10:05 PM ET, July 6, 2005

    Chase Field, Phoenix, Arizona 

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    W: C. Carpenter (13-4)

    L: J. Vazquez (7-8)

    S: J. Isringhausen (23)

    Carpenter picks up fifth straight win

    PHOENIX (AP) -- David Eckstein could barely contain himself when he got the sign for a suicide squeeze.

    "I hope my smile didn't give it away," the St. Louis leadoff hitter said. "I love that play."

    Eckstein got the bunt down as pinch-runner So Taguchi raced home in the ninth inning to give the Cardinals a 2-1 victory Wednesday night over the Arizona Diamondbacks and earn Chris Carpenter his 13th victory, tied for most in the majors.

    Javier Vazquez (7-8) held the powerhouse St. Louis lineup to a season-low three hits in a complete-game loss.

    "When I saw that the runner on third was Taguchi and Eckstein hitting, I thought to myself, what a perfect situation for a squeeze," Vazquez said. "But there's nothing you can do. When I saw it was a squeeze, I just tried to throw it low, but Eckstein did a good job of getting the bat on the ball."

    Jason Isringhausen pitched a scoreless ninth for his 200th career save, and 23rd in 25 chances this season. Albert Pujols went 0-for-3, ending his 17-game hitting streak.

    Carpenter isn't scheduled to pitch again before next Tuesday night's All-Star game, but he brushed aside any talk of him starting, a decision that will be made by his manager, Tony La Russa.

    "It doesn't matter. There's a lot of guys deserving to start," Carpenter said. "That's up to Tony, not up to me."

    The game was tied at 1 entering the ninth on home runs by Jim Edmonds of St. Louis in the first and Alex Cintron of the Diamondbacks in the sixth.

    Arizona manager Bob Melvin allowed Vazquez to bat with one out in the eighth, then sent the starter back to the mound for the ninth.

    Yadier Molina led off with a double just fair down the right-field line, then was replaced by Taguchi. Pinch-hitter Abraham Nunez sacrificed Taguchi to third. On a 1-0 pitch, Eckstein put down a bunt that rolled just a few feet into the grass toward third to easily bring the speedy runner home. The pitch was extremely low.

    "Six out of seven times you're not going to get the bat on it," La Russa said.

    A tough pitch, Eckstein said, can make a batter concentrate better in a bunt situation, especially a squeeze.

    "It's one of my most favorite plays, if not my favorite play, in the game," Eckstein said. "It's so exciting. Everything's right there on the line. It's even more special when it's in the ninth inning against a guy that's been dominating us."

    Arizona got the potential tying run to third against Isringhausen in the ninth when Troy Glaus walked, then Tony Clark singled with two outs. But Jose Cruz Jr. flied out to end the game.

    The Cardinals knocked the Diamondbacks around in the first two games of the series, outscoring them 17-4. But this one was a pitcher's duel from the start.

    Carpenter (13-4) gave up one run, struck out seven and walked two, both in the first inning.

    "It was a battle all night long," Carpenter said. "He pitched a great game. It was kind of flip a coin, whoever was going to get the next run across had a pretty good chance to win the game."

    Vazquez lost his fourth in a row despite perhaps his best outing of the season. He allowed only three baserunners all night, striking out eight and walking none.

    Carpenter, who allowed one earned run in his previous four starts, ran his streak of consecutive scoreless innings to 21 2/3 before Cintron's tying homer in the sixth.

    Meanwhile, Vazquez retired 17 in a row after Edmonds' one-out homer in the first.

    St. Louis didn't get another baserunner until Edmonds' leadoff single in the seventh. Edmonds was quickly erased when the Diamondbacks converted Pujols' sharp grounder to third into a double play.

    Cintron, a switch-hitter batting from the left side, hit Carpenter's 2-2 pitch into the seats down the right-field line. His third home run of the season tied it at 1. It was only the second run Carpenter allowed in his last 38 2/3 innings. The other came on a ninth-inning homer by Felipe Lopez of Cincinnati on June 20.

    "He was cuttin' it, sinking it, a good curveball, turning his cutter into a slider when he had to," Melvin said. "You know, he pitched the way his numbers suggest he would have pitched."

    Game notes

    St. Louis left no runners on base. ... The Diamondbacks have lost five in a row at home overall, and eight in a row at home to St. Louis. ... Carpenter is 7-0 with a 1.69 ERA in eight road starts this season. ... Vazquez pitched his third complete game of the season.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press