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05/20/09 1:42 AM ET

Return trip: Ace Carpenter set to start

St. Louis (22-17) vs. Chicago (21-16), 7:15 p.m. CT

ST. LOUIS -- Despite all of the arm troubles that have plagued Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter the past two seasons, it was a swing of the bat April 14 that sidelined him for five weeks with a strained left oblique.

But after three bullpen sessions -- including four simulated innings Friday night -- Carpenter was given a clean bill of health and will be activated from the 15-day disabled list to start Wednesday night's game against the Cubs at Busch Stadium.

"I've been working hard to be ready to get back out there," Carpenter said. "It's all come pretty quick, but I feel good. All of my throws have been good, so I'm excited to get out there."

Carpenter gave up one unearned run in seven innings in his first start of the season April 9, and he had thrown three shutout innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks before straining his oblique during an at-bat in the top of the fourth inning.

Carpenter came out to the mound to warm up after that, but he called for the trainers after a few pitches and left the game.

The Cy Young Award winner has been taking batting practice for several days and says he's not concerned about reinjuring himself at the plate.

"I'm not a hitter anyways," Carpenter said. "So I'm going to go out there and give them the effort and see what happens. I mean, I'm not out there trying to hit homers, but I'm not going to not swing the bat, either, and let the opposing team know that they can throw three fastballs down the middle and I'm out. I'm not going to do that."

Carpenter rejoins a starting staff in desperate need of a lift. Prior to Joel Pineiro's shutout Tuesday, Cardinals starters had one win since May 1 and were 1-10 since going 14-2 to start the season.

"Chris is really important to us," said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. "But you don't want to have our club and him believe that he's the total answer -- that's unfair. But he is very important."

Outfielder Rick Ankiel could also be activated from the DL before Wednesday's game if an afternoon workout goes well on the Busch Stadium field. He has been out since injuring his right shoulder during a collision with the outfield wall on May 4.

"Man, it's going to be nice to get Carp back and Ank back," said outfielder Colby Rasmus, who homered in the Cardinals' 3-0 win on Tuesday. "I think it kind of took a little bit of wind out of our sails when they were gone. I think it will give us a good lift."

Pitching matchup
STL: RHP Chris Carpenter (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
This is a very big deal for St. Louis, getting its ace and former Cy Young Award winner back after he was on the shelf for five weeks. Carpenter was outstanding in both of his starts before he was felled by a left oblique strain. If he's even close to his ideal level of sharpness and strength, he'll help the Cardinals tremendously. Carpenter will likely be on a fairly tight pitch count in his first start, but he's capable of making a tight pitch count last quite a few innings.

CHC: RHP Ryan Dempster (3-2, 4.65 ERA)
Dempster had thrown 121 pitches in his start prior to Thursday vs. the Padres, but he showed no wear and tear. Against San Diego, he went seven innings and gave up two runs on three hits while striking out five. Dempster picked up the win, and he seems to be in a better groove. He has thrown six or more innings in each of his starts this year, and recorded four quality starts. He did not get a decision in back-to-back outings vs. the Cardinals last month.

Yadier Molina's pickoff of the Cubs' Alfonso Soriano at first base in the first inning of Tuesday's win was his third of the season and the 29th of his career. ... The Cardinals hold a 49-30 record at home against the Cubs since 2000. ... The Cardinals have announced time changes for two upcoming games. The Saturday, June 20, game at Kansas City will now begin at 3:10 p.m. CT, and the Saturday, Aug. 1, game at Busch Stadium against the Houston Astros has been moved from 3:10 p.m. CT to a 6:15 p.m. CT start.

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Up next
• Thursday: Cardinals (Adam Wainwright, 3-2, 3.83) vs. Cubs (Sean Marshall, 2-2, 4.02), 7:15 p.m. CT
• Friday: Cardinals (Todd Wellemeyer, 3-4, 5.87) vs. Royals (Kyle Davies, 2-2, 5.01), 7:15 p.m. CT
• Saturday: Cardinals (Kyle Lohse, 3-3, 4.66) vs. Royals (Luke Hochevar, 0-1, 16.88), 12:10 p.m. CT

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