San Diego The three runs Chris Carpenter gave up in the second inning were just a hiccup.
Otherwise, the right-hander had no trouble becoming the NL's first 15-game winner, leading the St. Louis Cardinals over the staggering San Diego Padres, 11-3, on Thursday.
The All-Star had plenty of help. Jim Edmonds hit a three-run homer and tied his career high with five RBIs, and John Rodriguez also connected. Albert Pujols had three hits and two RBIs, and Abraham Nunez added three singles for the Cardinals, who took two of three in the matchup of division leaders.
"My goal is to go out there and get zeros as long as I can and give my team a chance to win, and I did it today and we played a good game," Carpenter said.
Carpenter (15-4) held San Diego to three runs and five hits in seven innings to join Jon Garland of the Chicago White Sox as the only 15-game winners in the majors. He improved to 8-0 in eight road starts and won his seventh straight decision.
By scoring three runs in the second inning, the Padres matched the number of runs Carpenter allowed in 592â3 innings in his previous seven starts. Carpenter threw three shutouts during that span.
Otherwise, the Padres continued to lack clutch hitting as they lost for the 32nd time in 50 games since June 1. The Padres dropped to .500 (51-51) and had their lead in the NL West cut to two games by Arizona, which beat the Chicago Cubs, 6-0.
Amazingly, the Padres have lost just one game in the standings since June 1.
"I think we'll come around," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We've been in it before and come out of it and started firing on all cylinders. That's what's going to happen and we're going to win this thing. If we don't, we're going to be in trouble."
Carpenter walked Ryan Klesko leading off the second, and Joe Randa doubled to left. Mark Sweeney hit a two-run double to left with one out, and Khalil Greene followed with an RBI double that bounced over third base and rolled into the corner.
"Obviously the walk to Klesko was not what I was looking for. A leadoff walk, and the ball that Sweeney hit, I left up," Carpenter said.
Braves 5, Nationals 4
Atlanta - Rookie Jeff Francoeur homered twice, Marcus Giles hit a two-run double in a three-run fourth, and the Atlanta beat Washington to complete a three-game sweep.
Francoeur, who had three hits and drove in the go-ahead run with an eighth-inning double Wednesday night, had his first multihomer game as he continued to establish himself as a regular in the Braves' lineup.
Diamondbacks 6, Cubs 0
Chicago - Rookie Brad Halsey pitched six innings of four-hit ball, and Luis Gonzalez and Chad Tracy homered to lead Arizona.
Halsey (7-7), acquired from the New York Yankees in the Randy Johnson trade during the offseason, won his third straight decision by striking out two.
Reds 6, Dodgers 1
Los Angeles - Jason LaRue drove in five runs with a pair of homers, and Brandon Claussen pitched seven sharp innings, helping Cincinnati split the four-game series.
Claussen (5-8) won for the first time since June 21.
Marlins 3, Pirates 0
Miami - Dontrelle Willis threw seven shutout innings for his first win in four starts, outdueling Kip Wells and lifting Florida.
The Marlins scored twice in the seventh, one on Juan Encarnacion's RBI double.
Giants 3, Brewers 0
Milwaukee - Brad Hennessey pitched seven scoreless innings and took care of the offense with a three-run home run, leading San Francisco.
Milwaukee starter Victor Santos (3-11) took a no-hitter into the fifth inning before Hennessey hit a 2-0 pitch for his first home run in 30 career at-bats.
Astros 3, Mets 2
Houston - Brad Ausmus singled to right-center with one out in the bottom of the ninth, giving Houston a victory over New York and ruining Carlos Beltran's return to Houston.
Phillies 8, Rockies 5
Denver - Pinch-hitter Tomas Perez drove in the tiebreaking run with a two-out infield single in the ninth, and Chase Utley homered and had a career-high five RBIs to help Philadelphia.