St. Louis All June, the story was the same with Chris Carpenter. Dominant pitching, followed by predictable self-analysis.
Carpenter pitched a four-hitter, and Yadier Molina, Jim Edmonds and Albert Pujols homered Saturday night to lead the St. Louis Cardinals past the Pittsburgh Pirates, 8-0.
Carpenter (11-4) struck out 11 and walked none in his eighth career shutout, his third this season and second in three starts - including a one-hitter June 14 at Toronto. He improved to 4-1 with an 0.90 earned-run average in June and has allowed one run and nine hits in 26 innings spanning his last three starts, lowering his ERA to 2.77.
He likely won't get another start this month due to the Cardinals' day off Monday and manager Tony La Russa's preference to give his starters an extra day of rest.
"I made a lot of good pitches, kept the ball down in the strike zone," Carpenter said. "I repeat a lot of things that I say, but that's what makes you effective."
Carpenter, who tied Florida's Dontrelle Willis for the major-league lead in shutouts, retired his first seven batters with no balls hit to the outfield, striking out the side in the second. He also helped himself at the plate with his first RBI of the season on a squeeze bunt that made it 5-0 in the fourth.
"He hit my target every pitch," said Molina, the Cardinals' catcher. "That's amazing. I don't know how he does it."
St. Louis, an NL-best 47-27, has homered eight times in the last two games while outscoring the Pirates, 16-1. The Cardinals have won 14 of their last 15 games against Pittsburgh.
"That's a strong lineup," Pirates starter Mark Redman said. "That's why they made it to the World Series last year. They capitalize on every bad pitch and hit it out of the ballpark."
Edmonds has homered three times in the last two games, and Molina has two homers to help the Cardinals put a three-game losing streak behind them.
"We played some pretty mediocre baseball for three or four days, and now we've gotten some good pitching and some hitting," Edmonds said. "It's just the game, just the way it goes.
"You never know what you're going to get each night you walk on the field."
Redman (4-6) gave up five runs and eight hits in five innings, surrendering Molina's solo shot and Edmonds' two-run homer in a three-run third. In his last two outings, he has given up 11 runs in 12 innings, and he has lost both starts against the Cardinals while allowing 11 runs in nine innings.
"They hit all of my mistakes, and they got out to an early lead," Redman said. "Chris could just cruise after that."
Pittsburgh has dropped 10 of 13 overall and is 4-12 in its last 16 road games.