Chris Carpenter pitched seven strong innings and the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Reds in Cincinnati, 7-3.
Carpenter scattered five hits over seven innings, gave up only two earned runs, and recorded his 13th win of the season. The 13 wins rank him fourth in the National League.
The Cards pitcher has defeated the Reds nine straight times, and tied Atlanta Braves pitcher Derek Lowe for the longest win streak against a single opponent in the Majors.
It is the pitching performance of Carpenter, as well as their ace Adam Wainwright and the rookie left-handler Jaime Garcia, that will push the Cardinals past the Reds and on to the National League Central division title.
The Cards pitching staff is third in the Bigs with a 3.43 earned run average. They also have a legitimate Cy Young candidate in Wainwright, something with which the Reds cannot compete. He is second in the National League in wins (16), ERA (2.07) and second in complete games with five.
Oh yeah, I forgot about Albert Pujols, the National League MVP.
He is consistently putting up Triple Crown numbers every season. He has 28 home runs (second in NL), 83 RBI (first in NL), and his .313 batting average ranks him fifth in the National League.
The Cardinals currently sit a game back of Reds in the Central. This three-game series in Cincinnati is critical. Tuesday's game will be tough for the Cardinals with Johnny Cueto taking his 11-2 record to the mound against Garcia.
The Reds are in the top five in almost every offensive category. But, down the stretch, pitching will be the difference and they are 14th in team ERA. They are just too young and inexperienced.
They will get their turn, but not this season.
The Cardinals will take two out of three in Cincinnati and ultimately win the Central Division in a close race.