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Carpenter throws 3-hitter at Astros

Carpenter throws 3-hitter at Astros

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ST. LOUIS - Chris Carpenter started ahead of Roger Clemens in the All-Star game, then topped him again a few days later.

The St. Louis right-hander outpitched Clemens to become the NL's first 14-game winner. He tossed a three-hitter and inadvertently played a major role in his team's big inning, leading the Cardinals to a 3-0 victory Sunday that completed a three-game sweep of the Houston Astros.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa picked Carpenter to start for the NL on Tuesday over more heralded choices such as Clemens.

"I don't concern myself with what Roger does," Carpenter said. "The only thing I can do is give my team a chance to win and beat their lineup. Not beat Roger."

In his last eight starts, beginning with a victory at Houston on June 3, Carpenter (14-4) has allowed only five runs in 64.2 innings for a 0.70 ERA. This was his third shutout in that span, and his fourth of the season. It was his fourth complete game this year and 17th of his career.

He's tied with Jon Garland of the White Sox, who won his 14th game on Sunday, for the major league lead.

Carpenter went to three three-ball counts and allowed only singles to Craig Biggio in the first, Brad Ausmus in the third and Mike Lamb in the fifth. The first two were easily erased.

Lance Berkman followed Biggio's hit with a double-play ball, and Ausmus was an easy out trying to go for a double. The game lasted only 1 hour, 59 minutes.

In three losses to Carpenter this year, the Astros have managed one run and 15 hits in 24 innings.

"He was virtually 0-1 with whatever the percentage was, and then he used his offspeed stuff and his fastball to get guys out when they're behind," Morgan Ensberg said after going 0 for 3. "Textbook baseball. It's not rocket science."

Carpenter struck out nine and walked none.

Clemens (7-4), the 2004 NL All-Star game starter, entered with a major league best 1.48 ERA and was almost as good. The exception was the Cardinals' three-run second, fueled by a pair of walks, Scott Rolen's RBI double and first baseman Mike Lamb's throwing error that allowed two runs to score.

With the bases loaded and one out, the .051-hitting Carpenter hit a tapper to first. Lamb tried to go for a home-to-first double play but threw wide to the plate. Carpenter was forced to dodge the throw as the ball sailed to the backstop. Rolen scored from third and So Taguchi scored from came in from second.

"I had no idea what he was doing," Carpenter said. "I looked up and he was firing the ball at my chest."

Lamb could have stepped on first and tried for a tag play at the plate, but manager Phil Garner didn't fault the strategy.

"You go ahead and throw the ball to the plate, and if you get your double play, you get the double play," Garner said. "Where his mistake was, instead of drilling Carpenter with the ball he tried to throw it around him."

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