By The Associated Press
Set aside the high-pressure task of postseason pitching that Chris Carpenter routinely masters for the St. Louis Cardinals and think about this:
Even the take-it-for-granted act of breathing feels odd on occasion now that he’s missing a rib and two neck muscles.
Taking the mound for only the fourth time in 2012 after complicated surgery to cure numbness on his right side, the 37-year-old Carpenter spoiled the return of postseason baseball to Washington by throwing scoreless ball into the sixth inning, and the defending champion Cardinals beat the Nationals 8-0 Wednesday in Washington to take a 2-1 lead in their NL division series.
“To go from not being able to compete, and not only compete but help your team, to be able to be in this situation,” Carpenter said, “it’s pretty cool.”
Rookie Pete Kozma delivered a three-run homer, and a trio of relievers finished the shutout for the Cardinals, who can end the best-of-five series in today’s Game 4 at Washington.
Kyle Lohse will start for St. Louis. Ross Detwiler pitches for Washington, which is sticking to its long-stated plan of keeping Stephen Strasburg on the sideline the rest of the way.
“We’re not out of this, by a long shot,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. “Shoot, I’ve had my back to worse walls than this.”
With the exception of Ian Desmond — 3 for 4 on Wednesday, 7 for 12 in the series — the Nationals’ hitters are struggling mightily. They’ve scored a total of seven runs in the playoffs and went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base in Game 3.
Rookie phenom Bryce Harper’s woes, in particular, stand out: He went 0 for 5, dropping to 1 for 15.
Giants 8, Reds 3: Angel Pagan led off the game with a home run, Gregor Blanco and Pablo Sandoval connected later and Tim Lincecum came out of the bullpen to help the San Francisco Giants beat the Reds in Cincinnati, evening their NL division series at 2-all.
The Giants can complete an unprecedented comeback today. No team has recovered from a 2-0 deficit in a best-of-five series by winning three on the road.
Matt Cain, who lost the series opener and has yet to beat Cincinnati in three starts this season, will start Game 5 against Mat Latos.
Yankees 3, Orioles 2, 12 inn.: Raul Ibanez lined a ninth-inning home run while pinch hitting for slumping Alex Rodriguez, then hit a leadoff homer in the 12th, giving the Yankees a stunning 3-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles in New York for a 2-1 lead in their AL division series.
Batting for baseball’s highest-paid player, Ibanez homered to right-center with one out in the ninth inning off Baltimore closer Jim Johnson to tie it at 2. He then hit the first pitch from Brian Matusz leading off the 12th.
Phil Hughes will start for the Yankees tonight in Game 4 of the best-of-five series. Chris Tillman or Joe Saunders will start for Baltimore.
A’s 4, Tigers 3: Coco Crisp’s two-out RBI single capped a three-run bottom of the ninth as the A’s evened up the ALDS series at 2-2 in Oakland, Calif.
Trailing 3-1, the A’s scored three runs off Detroit closer Jose Valverde in the ninth.