SAN DIEGO (AP) – Chris Carpenter had no trouble becoming the NL’s first 15-game winner, even though he gave up as many runs in one inning as he had in seven previous starts.

Jim Edmonds hit a three-run homer and tied his career high with five RBIs, and John Rodriguez also connected to back their All-Star right-hander as the St. Louis Cardinals routed the staggering San Diego Padres 11-3 on Thursday.

Albert Pujols had three hits and two RBIs and Abraham Nunez added three singles for the Cardinals, who took two of three in the matchup of division leaders. St. Louis got 10 runs and 15 of its 17 hits off two Padres rookies in the first seven innings.

Carpenter (15-4) held San Diego to three runs and five hits in seven innings to join Jon Garland of the Chicago White Sox as the only 15-game winners in the majors. He improved to 8-0 in eight road starts and won his seventh straight decision.

By scoring three runs in the second inning, the Padres matched the number of runs Carpenter allowed in 59 2-3 innings in his previous seven starts. Carpenter threw three shutouts during that span.

Otherwise, the Padres continued to lack clutch hitting as they lost for the 32nd time in 50 games since June 1. The Padres dropped back to .500 (51-51) and had their lead in the NL West cut to two games by Arizona, which beat the Chicago Cubs 6-0.

Amazingly, the Padres have lost just one game in the standings since June 1.

Carpenter walked Ryan Klesko leading off the third and Joe Randa doubled to left. Mark Sweeney hit a two-run double to left with one out, and Khalil Greene followed with an RBI double that bounced over third base and rolled into the corner.

Following Greene’s double, Carpenter retired 17 of 19 batters. He struck out five and walked one.

The last time Carpenter allowed more than one run was nine starts ago, which also was his last loss, 4-0 to the Boston Red Sox on June 8.

Edmonds hit a three-run homer to right with one out in the first off rookie Tim Stauffer, his 18th. Nunez was aboard on a walk and Pujols on a single to left. Edmonds drew a bases-loaded walk in the fourth and singled in the sixth to score Pujols, whose RBI triple bounced off the base of the fence in right-center.

Rodriguez hit a solo shot to right with two outs in the third, his third, for a 5-3 lead.

The Cardinals scored two more in chasing Stauffer (3-6) in the fourth. After rookie Clay Hensley relieved Stauffer, Nunez reached on an infield single to load the bases after the reliever was late to cover first. Pujols hit a nubber that barely reached the grass, but he reached and Mike Mahoney scored because catcher Phil Nevin had no play. Hensley then walked Edmonds to force in a run.

Stauffer (3-6) allowed nine hits and seven runs in 3 1-3 innings, struck out two and walked two. He has allowed at least five runs four times in six starts.

Notes: Edmonds has driven in five runs six times, most recently on Aug. 27 at Pittsburgh. … Carpenter matched his career high for wins, set last year when he went 15-5. … Padres broadcaster Jerry Coleman will be inducted into the U.S. Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame in Quantico, Va., on Friday, and the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday as the 2005 winner of the Ford C. Frick Award. Coleman was a star second baseman with the New York Yankees, whose career was twice interrupted to fly as a Marine pilot in World War II and Korea. He flew 120 missions and earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses, 13 Air Medals and three Navy Citations. … Nevin was ejected in the top of the ninth for apparently arguing balls and strikes.

AP-ES-07-28-05 1833EDT

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