Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – The St. Louis Cardinals are injecting more drama into the NL wild card race.
Behind a pair of Allen Craig home runs, a two-run blast by Albert Pujols and a stellar outing from Chris Carpenter, the Cardinals continued their late-season surge with a 5-0 win over the newly crowned five-time NL East champion Philadelphia Phillies.
Carpenter (10-9) scattered eight hits, walked one and struck out five over eight innings. Fernando Salas pitched the ninth to preserve the shutout.
St. Louis upped its September record to 11-5 while closing to within 3 1/2 games of the wild card-leading Atlanta Braves.
Cole Hamels (14-9) gave up four runs on seven hits in seven frames for Philadelphia, which has dropped two of three to the Cardinals in a four-game set at Citizens Bank Park that concludes Monday.
Recently, Hamels has had a propensity for giving up home runs, and that trend continued Sunday night.
The Cardinals took a 2-0 lead in the first inning when Pujols followed Craig’s one-out double with his NL-leading 36th home run of the season, a deep drive to left field.
Philadelphia had two on with one out in its half of the first, but Carpenter coaxed a double play grounder, one of three the Phillies hit into during the game.
In the sixth, Ryan Theriot led off with a double and Craig tried to bunt the runner over. But after two failed attempts, Craig smashed Hamels’ 0-2 offering over the wall in left-center.
Craig’s homer was the seventh surrendered by Hamels in four September starts.
The St. Louis outfielder clubbed his second home run of the game off Joe Blanton in the eighth.
Craig recorded the second multi-homer game of his career…The Phillies had won all eight of their previous four-game series this year…Hamels surpassed 200 innings pitched for the third time in his career…Chase Utley had three of Philadelphia’s eight hits…Justin De Fratus made his major league debut for the Phillies, tossing a scoreless ninth.