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Carpenter takes a no-decision in Cards' win

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Chris Carpenter survived a rare off night, his
13-game winning streak still intact.

Carpenter blew a four-run lead in his worst outing since his
streak began in mid-June, but the St. Louis Cardinals rallied on
David Eckstein's ninth-inning RBI single to beat the Pittsburgh
Pirates 5-4 on Tuesday night.

"I was cruising along and I felt like I was throwing the ball
well, and got there in the seventh and all of a sudden I started
getting some balls up and it got away from me," Carpenter said.
"No matter who you face, you're going to give up hits if you don't
execute pitches down in the zone."

Jim Edmonds and Yadier Molina homered for the Cardinals, who are
12-3 this season against the Pirates and reduced their magic number
for clinching the NL Central to two. They have won the first two
games of the series despite getting outhit 24-13 and a sweep on
Wednesday would clinch a tie for the division.

"We worked hard to get here," manager Tony La Russa said.
"The club has been so relentless, as strong-minded as you can
be."

Ryan Doumit singled, homered and doubled in his first three
at-bats for the Pirates, who have lost 15 of 18. He popped out to
short in his fourth at-bat in the seventh.

Pirates pitchers had retired 16 straight before Hector Luna
singled off Rick White (4-7) with two outs in the ninth. Luna stole
second and pinch-hitter John Rodriguez was intentionally walked
before Eckstein's bloop hit to shallow right. Luna scored without a
play.

"You just want to find some way to help the team," Eckstein
said. "I know it wasn't really pretty but it just found a hole and
I was able to do the job."

Pirates manager Pete Mackanin gave credit to the Cardinals'
pesky leadoff hitter.

"That guy Eckstein, I hate facing him with the game on the
line," Mackanin said. "He's an outstanding clutch hitter."

Brad Thompson (3-0) allowed one hit and struck out one in two
innings.

Carpenter, a 21-game winner tied with Dontrelle Willis of the
Marlins for the major league lead, was handed a 4-0 lead after two
innings. Edmonds hit a two-run homer, his 27th, in the first and
Molina hit his eighth in the second, when the Cardinals added
another run on first baseman Brad Eldred's two-out fielding error.

Both homers came off Ian Snell, who replaced Josh Fogg in the
rotation after being recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis on Monday.
Snell lasted four innings and gave up four runs -- three earned --
and five hits.

Carpenter, who had compiled a 1.36 ERA in his last 16 starts
with three shutouts and six complete games, couldn't hold it
against the last-place Pirates. Doumit hit his fifth homer in the
fourth, and Carpenter was knocked out with one out in a three-run
seventh that tied it.

J.J. Furmaniak, recalled from the minors earlier in the day,
doubled to start the seventh and scored on pinch-hitter Ty
Wigginton's single. Jason Bay's RBI single chased Carpenter and
pinch-hitter Jack Wilson's bloop single off Tyler Johnson made it
4-all.

Carpenter had been 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA against the Pirates in
three starts this season, but they said they've become familiar
with him.

"He's a good pitcher and after seeing him a number of times
you're going to get an idea how he's going to pitch you," Pirates
center fielder Tike Redman said. "He got us early and we caught up
to him."

Carpenter gave up four runs and 11 hits in 6 1/3 innings, his
shortest outing since the last game before his winning streak began
when he lasted six innings and gave up three runs in a 4-0 loss to
the Red Sox on June 8. It ended a run of 22 consecutive quality
starts, the longest streak in the NL since Cardinals Hall of Famer
Bob Gibson had 22 straight in 1968.

"I count that as a quality start," La Russa said. "Sometimes
you can abuse the stats. Our team won the game, when's the last
time the Cardinals lost when he started? That's a better stat."

Game notes
Carpenter singled in the fourth for only his third hit of
the season. He had been 2-for-71 on the year and the hit ended an
0-for-44 slump since June 3. ... Fogg, demoted to the bullpen on
Monday, had made 119 consecutive starts since Oct. 6, 2001, when he
was with the White Sox. He worked a hitless seventh. ... Albert
Pujols, who hasn't started the last two games due to a right leg
injury, struck out as a pinch hitter against Mike Gonzalez leading
off the eighth. ... The Cardinals' Class A affiliate in West Palm
Beach won the Florida State League championship Tuesday, the team's
first title in that league since 1986. ... Carpenter struck out
three and has 201, the first Cardinals pitcher to top 200 since
Jose DeLeon also had 201 in 1989.