Cardinals blow late lead, lose in Chris Carpenter’s return

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The good news for the Cardinals is that Chris Carpenter, originally thought to be out for the season after surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, turned in a successful five-inning stint Friday in his 2012 debut.

The bad news is that the bullpen blew a two-run lead in the ninth, and the Cards went on to lose to the Cubs 5-4 in 11 innings.

Darwin Barney hit a two-run homer off Fernando Salas with two outs in the ninth to extend the game. Salas was going for the save in place of regular closer Jason Motte, who had the day off after working in all three games in the sweep of Houston.

The Cubs ended it in the 11th when David DeJesus knocked in Brett Jackson with his fourth hit of the day.

Carpenter’s start went off without a hitch. While he wasn’t exactly in midseason form with either his fastball or curve, he held the Cubs scoreless in four of his five innings. He ended up allowing five hits, walking one, striking out two and hitting a batter. His heater was typically in the 88-91 mph range, which is pretty promising considering that he’s still so ahead of schedule in his recovery. Maybe he’ll get back closer to his usual 90-94 mph come playoff time, should the Cardinals advance.

While the loss today snapped the Cardinals’ four-game winning streak, the team remains in position for the second wild card. They’ll end the night with at least a 1 1/2-game lead over the Brewers.

Video: Matt Carpenter makes history with three home runs, two doubles

St Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs
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Matt Carpenter pulled his weight and then some during the Cardinals’ 18-5 win on Friday, becoming just the second player in MLB history to tally three home runs and two doubles in the same game… and the first-ever to do so in the first six innings of a single game.

Carpenter wasted little time getting the Cardinals on the board, first drawing a full count against Cubs lefty Jon Lester, then ricocheting a 92.4-MPH fastball off the scoreboard in right field for a leadoff home run. He returned in the second inning for another two-run shot and capped a seven-run spread in the fifth with an RBI double (his first double of the game was a leadoff hit in the fourth) before polishing off his performance with a third, three-run homer in the sixth.

Following Friday’s explosive five-run, seven-RBI performance, Carpenter is now batting .274/.381/.576 on the year with 23 home runs, 30 doubles and a .957 OPS in 388 PA. The last player to record five extra-base hits in one game was the Cubs’ Kris Bryant, who collected four runs and six RBI for the team back in June 2016. As MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch pointed out, Carpenter might have set another franchise record for most home runs in a game had interim manager Mike Shildt not removed him from the game in the bottom of the sixth. The record is still held by former club outfielder Mark Whiten, who collected four home runs (and a staggering 12 RBI) against the Reds in September 1993.