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August 19, 2009

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Streaking Cardinals down Dodgers

RICK Ankiel hit a two-run home run to help Chris Carpenter to his eighth straight decision on the mound as the St Louis Cardinals beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 on Monday.

The Cardinals grabbed a ninth win in their last 10 contests on the back of outfielder Ankiel's go-ahead blow in the seventh inning off Dodgers pitcher Charlie Haeger.

Slugger Albert Pujols had earlier recorded his 39th homer and 105th RBI of the season and St Louis reliever Ryan Franklin got the final two outs of the game for his 30th save of the season.

"Look at his numbers and the stuff that he's done all year," Carpenter told reporters, of teammate Franklin.

"He comes in pounding the strike zone and not scared. That's what it's all about. You can't say enough about what (he's) done."

Carpenter led the way with eight strong innings and eight strikeouts to continue his dominant form.

The right-hander (13-3) has not lost since June 30 and ended his most recent start by striking out Rafael Furcal and Orlando Hudson to end a Dodgers' threat in the eighth.

The Cardinals (68-52) have fed off Carpenter's consistency to surge to a six-game lead in the National League Central.

Los Angeles (70-49), which has struggled to an 8-14 mark since late July yet still control the NL West, took a 2-1 lead in the fifth on an RBI single from James Loney but could not hold on.

Haeger, a knuckle-baller who was signed to a minor league contract in January and called up this week, allowed just five total hits in his first start of the season.

A couple costly mistakes, however, undermined his performance, including when he hit Ryan Ludwick with a pitch in the seventh to put the tying run on base before Ankiel gave St Louis the lead.

"A couple pitches got away from me tonight," Haeger said. "All and all it was a decent outing, I think. I feel most comfortable being in the rotation and that's where I want to be - hopefully I can help out."

In San Diego, rookie Kyle Blanks hit a three-run homer with two outs in the bottom of ninth as San Diego downed Chicago 4-1.

The Cubs were one strike away from securing a 1-0 win when Chase Headley doubled off Kevin Gregg (4-5) to score David Eckstein, who walked with one out, from first base.

Elsewhere in National League, it was: Braves 9, Diamondbacks 4; Giants 10, Mets 1; and Pirates 9, Brewers 5.

In the American League, Brett Tomko pitched five scoreless innings to beat New York less than a month after being released by the Yankees, winning his debut with the Oakland Athletics 3-0.

Kurt Suzuki and Mark Ellis had RBI hits in a three-run fourth inning against A.J. Burnett (10-6) in the Yankees' second straight loss on this West Coast trip.

In Baltimore, Vladimir Guerrero hit two homers and had five RBIs, and Kendry Morales and Maicer Izturis also homered as Los Angeles downed Baltimore 8-5. The Angels broke a 2-all tie with three runs in the sixth and three in the seventh.

Also, it was: Rangers 8, Twins 5; and White Sox 8, Royals 7.


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