Carpenter paves way for Cards in Series finale

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ST. LOUIS (AP) - The Cardinals gave the ball to their ace. On short rest, Chris Carpenter paved the way in the World Series finale.

The 36-year-old Carpenter was his usual stingy self on short rest in Game 7. Emphasizing breaking balls after a shaky start, the right-hander shut down the Texas Rangers‘ dangerous in a 6-2 victory that gave St. Louis its second championship in six seasons.

Manager Tony La Russa discussed the move with pitching coach Dave Duncan on Friday morning after getting a few hours of sleep following the Cardinals‘ dramatic Game 6 victory.

“I said ‘How about the alternatives?’” La Russa said on the field after Game 7. “`He said, ‘Are you kidding? It’s Chris Carpenter.’ And he hung up on me.”

Though just an 11-game winner this year, the 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner was 10-2 in the second half. He stayed on a roll in the postseason, going 4-0 with wins in Games 1 and 7 against Texas.

“He’s always been our horse,” general manager John Mozeliak said. “We knew we’d ride him.”

A rainout on Wednesday gave Carpenter a shot to start on three days’ rest for just the second time in his career in Game 7 _ and the second time this postseason. He allowed two runs in six-plus innings.

“Obviously it’s not my decision, it’s Tony‘s, but I was hoping to have an opportunity to go ahead and pitch,” Carpenter said. “Fortunately, it worked out.” Carpenter had a 2.84 ERA in the World Series. He has nine postseason victories, extending his franchise record.

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BULLPEN GO-ROUND: The Cardinals used a record 75 relief pitchers in 18 postseason games, 13 more than the Giants used in 17 games in 2002.

The Rangers also bettered the previous record with 70 relievers used, although the bullpen was not their strength in the World Series. Manager Ron Washington doesn’t know why.

“I wish they would have continued to be dominant,” Washington said. “I wish I did have the answer. I don’t. You know, those are the guys that got us here, and those guys were in position to take us further, and it didn’t get done.

“And that’s it.”

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MAC ATTACK: Mark McGwire won a World Series ring with the “Bash Brothers” in Oakland. Now, he has one as a batting coach.

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