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Short rest a new challenge for Carpenter

Short rest a new challenge for Carpenter

Short rest a new challenge for Carpenter
PHILADELPHIA -- The news appeared to surprise Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter -- not that he had been picked to start Game 2 of the NLDS on three days' rest, but that he had never done so before in a career that started in 1997.

"Really? I've never done it?" Carpenter said.

When Carpenter takes the ball for Game 2 against the Phillies on Sunday, he'll pitch on three days' rest for the very first time. The decision by manager Tony La Russa to have Carpenter come back on short rest might have raised a few eyebrows.

None, however, belonged to Carpenter, who helped send the Cardinals to the postseason by tossing a shutout on Wednesday against the Astros, allowing two hits, one walk with 11 strikeouts in a 106-pitch effort.

The Cardinals approached Carpenter with the idea and he said he was all for it. St. Louis will use Kyle Lohse in Game 1 on Saturday followed by Carpenter and Jaime Garcia on Tuesday for Game 3 when the series shifts to St. Louis.

"I told them I felt good and that I still have something left in the tank," Carpenter said. "I feel good, I feel strong and I feel good about the situation we're in."

La Russa said Friday that he weighed his options carefully before deciding on Carpenter.

"That's not something that you do lightly, but there's a couple of facts that you consider," he said. "As we've gotten into the season, he's gotten stronger and stronger. He actually feels better now than he did the first half of the year.

"He had the kind of game [against Houston] that was not a stressful game. I don't mean because of the score; I mean because his delivery was in sync. He would have thrown another 50 pitches and not been tired."

But why not remove Carpenter earlier in the game, such as after the Cardinals took a 5-0 lead after one inning or when they led 7-0 after five innings?

"As we got some runs, we weren't going to take anything for granted, but we felt like we could close it out," La Russa said. "He went out there, and if you watch his last couple innings, nobody got on base. It's like, [catcher Yadier] Molina explained later, it was like playing catch."

Also, St. Louis needed five innings and then 6 2/3 innings from the bullpen in the two games leading up to Carpenter's start against the Astros. The bullpen was taxed.

"A lot depended on Wednesday, and he had a real good game," La Russa. "He felt strong at the end, so we didn't really announce anything because we wanted to wait to see how he felt yesterday, wanted to wait to see how he feels today.

"And if he would have come in with any kind of stiffness, we would have gone a different direction."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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