"[Carpenter] is one of the best pitchers," Cardinals outfielder Juan Encarnacion said. "All he needs is a couple of runs."
Carpenter only needed a couple of runs in his next outing on Sept. 16 against the Giants, whom he beat, 6-1, for his 100th career win. He became the third Cardinals starter to reach that plateau this season, joining left-hander Mark Mulder and right-hander Jeff Suppan.
"[The wins are] nice," said Carpenter, who missed the entire 2003 Major League season with a shoulder injury. "Obviously, with everything I went through, it's nice to be healthy and helping the team win games. I hope to get some more and keep on going."
If he does rack up a couple more wins, a second straight NL Cy Young Award could very well be in the cards for Carpenter. He won't finish with 21 wins like he did last season, but his ERA (2.79) and strikeout (179) marks of '06 are right along his lines of a year ago.
Unfortunately, Carpenter hasn't always gotten sufficient run support this season.
"When you look at the games that Carp could have won [but didn't get run support in], he would be over 20 wins," pitching coach Dave Duncan said. "He has had as good of a year as he had last year."
Manager Tony LaRussa agreed.
"Everything hasn't worked for him this year," he said. "Sometimes, we don't score. And he has just ignored everything and gotten ready to pitch, and he's putting together another great season."
This season, Carpenter clearly has more gas in the tank for the stretch run than he did last season. He's paced himself better, and it shows with a 3-0 record and a 1.78 ERA in games this month, compared to a 2-1 mark and a 5.73 ERA last September.
"I learned from last year," Carpenter said. "That was something I learned, that no matter what the situation was, not to give them away. I don't plan on giving them away. I'm trying as hard as I can to stay locked in and stay focused on what I need to do."