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Carpenter Puts Nail in Phillies Coffin, Cards Move On

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St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Chris Carpenter, center, reacts in the clubhouse with after their 1-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies in baseball's Game 5 of the National League division series Friday, Oct. 7, 2011 in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Chris Carpenter, center, reacts in the clubhouse with after their 1-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies in baseball’s Game 5 of the National League division series Friday, Oct. 7, 2011 in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

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By ROB MAADDI
AP Sports Writer

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Chris Carpenter tossed a three-hitter to
outpitch old pal Roy Halladay in a duel for the ages and the St.
Louis Cardinals edged the Philadelphia Phillies 1-0 Friday night in
the deciding Game 5 of their NL playoff series.

The wild-card Cardinals scored in the first inning when Rafael
Furcal led off with a triple and Skip Schumaker followed with a
double.

And that was it.

Heavily favored Philadelphia never broke through against
Carpenter. Ryan Howard grounded out to end the game and hurt his
leg coming out of the batter’s box _ he limped a couple of steps
and crumpled to the ground as St. Louis started to celebrate.

“It was some kind of fun, getting out there and was able to get
that one run early off Doc, he was dominant the rest of the game,”
Carpenter said.

“He’s a great friend of mine, and like I said, he did a great
job tonight also,” he said.

The Cardinals needed a monumental collapse by Atlanta in the
final month and major help from the 102-win Phillies just to reach
the playoffs. Now they’re heading to Milwaukee for the NL
championship series starting Sunday following a stunning upset in
which they beat three of Philadelphia’s four aces: Halladay, Cliff
Lee and Roy Oswalt.

Three of baseball’s four opening-round matchups went to a
deciding Game 5, and all of them were pitching-rich thrillers.
Detroit held off the New York Yankees 3-2 on Thursday night, and
Milwaukee beat Arizona in 10 innings earlier Friday.

Then, the showdown between Carpenter and Halladay topped them
all.

Trailing two games to one, the Cardinals began their comeback
with a win in Game 4. That night in St. Louis, a squirrel scampered
across home plate as Schumaker batted in the middle innings _ if
the Cardinals keep winning, their fans will certainly go nuts,
thanks to their “Rally Squirrel.”

Coincidentally, a squirrel was caught at Citizens Bank Park
before Game 5. Not a good omen, apparently, for the Phillies.

“I think guys we’re just relaxed and having fun,” Carpenter
said. “We put ourselves into position where everybody was
expecting us to have no chance and we just started playing like the
team we knew we were. And we were fortunate to get some help back
into it with Atlanta losing and we were playing well the rest of
that month.”

Carpenter was over 100 pitches when he took the mound in the
ninth. He retired Chase Utley on a fly to the warning track in
center and got Hunter Pence on a grounder.

Howard was next, and Carpenter got the big slugger to end a most
improbable series win.

Catcher Yadier Molina threw his mask toward the mound, Carpenter
turned to the left of first looking for someone to celebrate with
before his teammates finally got there, led by Albert Pujols. The
congregation settled at second base, as just off to the right,
while Howard was carried off the field and into his dugout.

Howard took a called third strike with the tying run on second
base to end the Phillies’ season last year in the NLCS against San
Francisco.

The expectations for Philadelphia were even higher this year
after Lee returned. The loss meant the teams with the top two
records and payrolls in the majors _ the Phillies and Yankees _
were gone in the first round, even while holding home-field
advantage.

Carpenter walked none and struck out three in the matchup of Cy
Young Award winners who were longtime teammates in Toronto. The
aces had already agreed to take a fishing trip together after this
season.

Halladay was outstanding, too, but his year is over. Tagged by
the first two batters, he allowed six hits overall, striking out
seven in eight innings.

It wasn’t good enough, and now manager Charlie Manuel’s team
will certainly be considered a disappointment in their own town
after failing to win a World Series in an all-or-nothing season.
The Phillies cruised to their fifth straight NL East title and were
hoping to add to the crown to the one they won in 2008.

But nothing less than a second World Series championship in four
years was going to be acceptable this season. Everyone from
management to players to fans expected the Phillies to win it all.

A sellout crowd that stood and screamed from the first pitch
held their heads in disbelief and silently walked out without even
booing.

The pesky Cardinals looked nothing like an underdog. They were
the best team in the NL down the stretch.

St. Louis trailed the Braves by 101/2 games on Aug. 25, but went
23-8 the rest of the way and earned a wild-card berth after Game
162 when Philadelphia completed a three-game sweep in Atlanta.

The Cardinals scored three runs off Halladay in the first inning
of the series opener on Lance Berkman’s three-run homer. They got
to him again quickly in this one.

Furcal lined a triple to the gap in right-center. He did the
same off Lee in Game 2, but was stranded that day.

Not this time.

Schumaker then lined a double to right to put the Cardinals up
1-0, stunning a crowd that expected Halladay to be lights-out.

Albert Pujols followed with a soft liner that second baseman
Utley barehanded on one hop and threw out Schumaker at third. After
Berkman reached on interference by catcher Carlos Ruiz, Halladay
worked out of the jam, needing 33 pitches to get three outs.

Halladay stopped for a brief chat with plate umpire Gary
Cederstrom on his way to the dugout. It was a cordial conversation,
though Halladay may have expressed displeasure with a few close
calls.

One run wouldn’t seem enough against a lineup that features
seven regulars who’ve been All-Stars. But nearly everyone except
Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino struggled.

Fans in the parking lot before the game talked about trying to
unnerve Carpenter the way they famously did to Burt Hooton in Game
3 of the 1977 NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers at old Veterans
Stadium.

They made plenty of noise and waved their white-and-red rally
towels

Carpenter never flinched.

After Victorino lined a one-out double in the second, Carpenter
retired Raul Ibanez on a foul pop and Placido Polanco on a
grounder.

The Phillies had runners on first and third with two outs in the
fourth, but Ibanez flied out to the warning track in right.

Carpenter allowed a one-out single to Utley in the sixth, but
Molina threw him out trying to steal second. Carpenter pumped his
fist and hollered at Molina, who became the first catcher to nail
Utley stealing this season. Utley had been 14 for 14 and 56 for 58,
dating to 2009.

Furcal made an outstanding play to rob Ruiz of a hit in the
eighth, diving to his left on a grounder up the middle and throwing
out the slow-footed catcher.

This “dream matchup,” as Cardinals manager Tony La Russa
called it, lived up to the hype. Halladay and Carpenter grew up
together with the Blue Jays, have remained best buddies and often
vacation together.

Halladay overcame a shaky start in Game 1 and pitched eight
strong innings in an 11-6 win.

Pitching on three days’ rest for the first time in his career,
Carpenter struggled last Sunday. He allowed four runs and five hits
in three innings in his shortest outing of the season. But the
Cardinals rallied from a 4-0 deficit against Lee and beat the
Phillies 5-4 to even the series.

NOTES: Pujols, who will be a free agent after the season, will
play at least a few more games in St. Louis. … Cole Hamels, the
Phillies’ fourth ace, won Game 3. … The Phillies hadn’t played a
decisive postseason game since losing Game 5 of the division series
against Montreal in the strike-shortened 1981 season. They had been
3-1 in Game 5s of a series that was tied at 2. … The Cardinals’
last decisive game was in the 2006 NLCS. They beat the New York
Mets and went on defeat Detroit in five games in the World Series.
… Molina got his first career postseason stolen base in the
fourth inning. … Schumaker left the game in the fourth because of
right oblique tightness. … This was the 220th straight sellout in
Philadelphia, including postseason play.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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