ST. LOUIS (AP) – Chris Carpenter was dominant again, showing no mercy to a former teammate.

Carpenter carried a shutout into the eighth inning for his 100th career win, outpitching Matt Morris in his return in St. Louis and leading the Cardinals over the San Francisco Giants 6-1 Saturday.

“I was trying to get the Giants’ hitters out and competing as hard as I can,” Carpenter said. “I knew he was going to bring his best and do the best he could to get our guys out.”

About the only concession Carpenter made was stepping off the rubber during an ovation from a sellout crowd before Morris’ first at-bat in the second inning.

“I just wanted to get on with the game,” Morris said. “It’s hard to enjoy those moments when you’re playing.”

Juan Encarnacion’s three-run homer capped a four-run first for the Cardinals, who cut their magic number for clinching the NL Central to nine. Albert Pujols was 4-for-4 with an RBI and Aaron Miles tripled twice.

San Francisco has lost three of four and is 31/2 games behind wild card-leading San Diego, which beat the Dodgers 11-2 Saturday night. St. Louis has beaten the Giants four straight times by a combined score of 38-14 and manager Felipe Alou agreed with an assessment that the situation is dire.

“Some of (our starters) are tired, some of them are young, and we don’t score that many runs,” Alou said. “We fall behind three, four, five runs in the first inning, we don’t score that many to overcome that.”

Encarnacion lost a ball in the sun in the eighth to help the Giants score their only run. Pinch-hitter Todd Linden was credited with a leadoff triple on what appeared to be a routine fly ball and Steve Finley followed with an RBI single. That chased Carpenter and ended his run of 16 consecutive scoreless innings.

“It’s good that I lost the ball in a game like that, when we win by five runs,” Encarnacion said.

Carpenter didn’t mind, given Encarnacion’s offensive contribution. He also pointed out Encarnacion’s tumbling catch to rob Omar Vizquel in the third.

“If it wasn’t for his big three-run home run in the first, we might still be playing,” Carpenter said. “He’s done a great job and he’s made some phenomenal catches, and he made one today.”

Carpenter (15-6) gave up five hits and struck out nine. He’s 5-0 in his last eight starts, all of the victories coming at home, where he has a major league-best 1.46 ERA.

Carpenter improved to 100-66 lifetime. He’s the third St. Louis pitcher to reach 100 victories this season, following Mark Mulder and Jeff Suppan, and all of them received a beer shower from their teammates.

The Giants stranded two runners in each of the first two innings against Carpenter, who retired 10 in a row before Morris doubled with one out in the fifth. Carpenter then set down the next eight in a row, including three straight strikeouts against the top of the order.

Morris, a former 20-game winner with the Cardinals, had played his entire career in St. Louis before signing a free-agent deal with the Giants in the offseason. He got a big ovation from a sellout crowd before his first at-bat and doffed his helmet, but could not recover from a rocky first in which he surrendered a leadoff triple to Miles, Pujols’ one-out RBI single and Encarnacion’s 19th homer.

In two starts against his old team, Morris (10-14) is 0-2 and has allowed nine earned runs in 12 innings. This was his first start at new Busch Stadium.

“At this point in the season, I felt at home in a Giants uniform and it felt like another game,” Morris said. “The new ballpark helped that out. There’s not that much history behind me here.”

Scott Rolen, who had a career-best seven RBIs in a two-homer game on Friday night, added RBI doubles for St. Louis in the fifth and seventh.

Notes: Morris has given up 30 runs in the first inning of his 31 starts, by far his worst inning. “I don’t remember him being like that when he pitched for (the Cardinals),” Alou said. … Encarnacion’s 19th homer matched his season best in 2003 and 1999. … The switch-hitting Miles has five triples, all of them batting left-handed. … Carpenter topped 200 innings for the second straight season and third time in his career. … Carpenter is 7-3 on the road with a 4.52 ERA. … The Cardinals are 15-4 in their last 19 home games.

AP-ES-09-17-06 0120EDT

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.