SAN DIEGO -- Chris Carpenter thought he pitched well in the Cardinals' 3-1 loss on Wednesday, and so did manager Tony La Russa.Even when Carpenter surrendered the go-ahead run in the eighth inning -- an RBI double by Chase Headley down the left-field line -- he thought he pitched well. Thing is, so did Headley. "He was pounding me inside with cutters the whole game, and I was just trying to fight them off," Headley said. "Then he tried to throw a sinker away and it was actually a pretty good pitch. I was just able to get the barrel out there and get something on it. It's funny because I had some at-bats earlier in the game I felt better about. "But it's a crazy game. You take the ones you can get." Carpenter (1-5) felt the same way following the Cardinals' (30-21) first loss in five games. Prior to the eighth inning, Carpenter had allowed one run on five hits, with the blemish being a home run to right field by Brad Hawpe. And even there, Carpenter liked what he was throwing. "It was a really good pitch, actually," Carpenter said. "And so was his next at-bat, where he hit a liner to left, was a really good pitch." Carpenter was in a more vulnerable position when Jason Bartlett led off with a triple in the sixth inning, but he and the Cardinals' defense managed to hold the Padres (20-30) scoreless that inning. All the while, Padres starting pitcher Mat Latos (2-6) worked his way through the St. Louis lineup. He allowed one run on six hits in eight innings, and Heath Bell closed out his 10th save of the season. Carpenter retired the first two batters in the eighth, but things started to unravel when Bartlett reached first on a bunt. Bartlett made it fairly uncontested to first, but only because St. Louis third baseman Daniel Descalso seemed to lose his footing before making the throw. Then Headley hit his go-ahead double down the left-field line, and Ryan Ludwick singled to score Headley on the subsequent at-bat. "You look at that last inning there ... the bunt base hit and Headley puts a good at-bat on me, and I make a good pitch -- that balls not even on the plate ..." Carpenter said. "That's the way it's gone. That's the way it is." The lack of run support for Carpenter on Wednesday may not have been brought up after the game if it were a single occurrence. But Carpenter, a three-time All-Star, has struggled without the support he's needed for much of the season, especially considering the Cardinals lead the Major Leagues in batting average, runs scored, on-base percentage and RBIs. "It's been several times this year and it's the same scenario, we just can't produce enough offense to give him a legitimate chance to win," La Russa said. "I mean, Latos pitched just as well as [Carpenter], so it's tough." Latos consistently threw his fastball 94 and 95 mph and struck out seven batters in his eight innings. Latos seemed to get better as the game progressed, and the scoreboard testified to that. The Cardinals scored their lone run of the game in the first inning.
Jon Jay led off the inning with a double to left field and Craig Allen bunted him to third. Lance Berkman knocked him in two batters later with a single to center field.After that, the Cardinals only advanced one runner past first base -- Descalso, who was left on third in the second inning. "I think he just kept us off balance today," Descalso said about Latos. "He had pretty good stuff. He had his little sinker working and he was able to just miss barrels all day." Still, despite the loss, the Cardinals took two of three games from the Padres and are 4-2 on their nine-game road trip. The Cardinals just wished they could have scored some runs behind Carpenter. "I think, if you look at all his starts, he's had a bunch of quality starts," La Russa said. "He's had one or two where he had the ball in the middle and they got some base hits, a couple times where they've had multiple hits, but most of his starts have been like this. He's held the other team down; we just can't punch anything across. "But he's doing his part, more than doing his part."
Mark Thompson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.