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Carpenter to duel old friend in Game 4

Carpenter to duel old friend in Game 4

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ST. LOUIS -- Chris Carpenter will earn his first opportunity to close out a Cardinals playoff series. But he will have to beat a former teammate and friend.

Carpenter will match up against Woody Williams, a former Redbirds starter, on Sunday afternoon in Game 4 of the National League Division Series. The two also matched up against each other on Sept. 26, Carpenter's last regular-season start. The Padres took the contest, exploding for six runs and 12 hits in seven innings.

"It's going to be fun," Carpenter said of the rematch. "The thing about Woody is that he is a professional. He is going to come out and battle. He's going to come out and be prepared. And he knows how to pitch. I am sure that he will have his 'A' game tomorrow, and you know, I am looking forward to a good game."

On Saturday morning, Carpenter was uncertain whether he would throw Game 4 of the NLDS or Game 1 of the National League Championship Series. The Cardinals, though, lost a chance to close out the series, falling, 3-1, to Chris Young and the Padres.

Leading the best-of-five series, 2-1, the Redbirds will turn to Carpenter, a pitcher who has controlled the Padres throughout his postseason career, winning Game 1 of the 2005 NLDS and tossing 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball in the playoff opener on Tuesday.

The steady and consistent right-hander won't view this game as any bigger than Game 1 or a midseason contest.

"It doesn't feel any different than any other game," Carpenter said. "I need to go out and execute my game plan. I'll go home tonight and think about what I am going to do and come in tomorrow and be ready to go."

It wasn't in the Redbirds' best plans to use Carpenter on Sunday. If the Cardinals had won Saturday afternoon, they would have throw their ace in Game 1 of the NLCS against either the Dodgers or the Mets.

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"We wanted to save him for the second round," Albert Pujols said.

Instead, the right-hander will try to atone for one of his worst starts of the year. The Sept. 26 matchup was only the third time in 2006 that Carpenter allowed more than five runs in a start, and the only time at home he permitted more than four.

Overall, Carpenter led the Majors in home ERA (1.81) and his 3.09 ERA overall ranked third in the NL.

"We know how good he is," Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. "He is one of the best pitchers in the game."

Conor Nicholl is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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