Friday, July 22, 2011 - At PNC Park (Chris Carpenter - Starting Pitcher) - Opponent: Pittsburgh Pirates (Paul Maholm - Starting Pitcher) - Attendance: 38,490
The Cardinals staked Chris Carpenter to a 4-0 first-inning lead - on a pair of two-run home runs - then Carpenter later helped his own cause with a run-scoring single - as St Louis held on for the win, to move into a virtual tie with Pittsburgh for second-place in the NL Central - one game behind first-place Milwaukee.
Jon Jay started the first-inning rally against Pirates starter Paul Maholm with a one-out triple to right field, bringing Albert Pujols to the plate - in his favorite ballpark to hit. As if on cue, Pujols launched one to deep right-center field - three rows deep - to put the Redbirds quickly on top, 2-0.
One out later, after Lance Berkman doubled down the left field line, David Freese belted an opposite-field home run deep to right field to give the Cardinals a four run advantage right off the bat.
The Pirates cut that deficit in half in the second-inning. With two out, Garrett Jones doubled, followed by a run-scoring single from Ronnie Cedeno, a scratch infield single from Michael McHenry, then an RBI single from Maholm - trying to help his own cause.
Carpenter returned the favor in the third-inning - lining a two-out base hit to right-center field, to score Yadier Molina, who had doubled.
Pittsburgh scored two more runs in the sixth-inning - but questionable base-running took them out of a potentially big-inning, when they collected five hits off a tiring Carpenter.
With one out, and runners on second and third, Garrett Jones brought both home with a bloop single near the line in left field - but was nailed by a strong throw from Matt Holliday when he tried to stretch it into a double. That play loomed large when the next two batters - Cedeno and McHenry - also singled; however, the inning ended when pinch hitter Xavier Paul grounded out to Pujols at first base - unassisted.
Then Yadi gave the Cardinals a bit more breathing room with a two-out solo home run in the eighth-inning - giving the Cardinals a 6-4 lead - and that's where it finished, after Fernando Salas worked a scoreless ninth-inning for his 18th save of the season.
Carpenter, who had gotten off to a slow start, improved to 6-7. By the time the regular season ended, it's safe to say he had his "A" game going.