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10/19/06 1:38 AM ET

Carpenter's effort not quite enough

Ace limits Mets to two runs, but Cards unable to clinch series

NEW YORK -- After it was decided that he was going to pitch Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, Cardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter took a Tuesday afternoon flight to New York to get some rest and to prepare to face the Mets on Wednesday night at Shea Stadium.

As he entered the plane, Carpenter saw Mets right-hander John Maine, his counterpart in Game 6. There wasn't much of a conversation between the two, other than exchanging greetings and hoping that the series wouldn't experience a third rainout. Carpenter and Maine didn't get to New York until 11 p.m. ET because of rain in the Big Apple.

"There was still a long day of travel, but there is no question getting here at 11 [was better than getting to New York] at four [in the morning], whatever time the guys got in," Carpenter said. "I think it's the first time in my career I went ahead of the team. I don't know if it helped. When we landed it was raining real bad in New York. That's why we got delayed."

By the time he reached his hotel room, Carpenter already knew that the Cardinals were up, 3-2, in the NLCS and that it would be up to him to put his team into the World Series with a quality performance. He ended up having his best outing of the series, giving up two runs over six innings, but it wasn't enough as the Cardinals lost to the Mets, 4-2, to even the series and send it to a seventh game.

Wednesday's outing was the antithesis of his start in Game 2 on Friday, in which the defending NL Cy Young Award winner gave up five runs over five innings. Early on, Carpenter was relying on his fastball, but he managed to get his breaking ball working in the later innings.

Carpenter's only two mistakes occurred in the first and fourth innings. In the first, Carpenter gave up a leadoff home run to Jose Reyes, and in the fourth, he allowed an RBI single to Shawn Green.

"I was executing pitches," Carpenter said. "I was able to get my breaking ball over. I made two mistakes that hurt me -- the cutter to Reyes to lead the game off; it didn't cut. I tried to throw the ball in to [Green] and it came back over the plate. Besides that, I felt like I was hitting my spots. Unfortunately, we came out on the other end of the stick."

While Carpenter was pitching a quality game, his teammates had Maine on the ropes in the first inning. The Cards had runners on second and third with just one out, but Jim Edmonds struck out for the second out. After Juan Encarnacion was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Scott Rolen flied out to Green in right to end the inning. Carpenter said he wasn't frustrated by the lack of run support.

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"I don't concern myself with what my team does offensively," Carpenter said. "My job is to go out and pitch. I know I did my job. Unfortunately, I gave up a couple of extra runs. My job isn't to go out and hit home runs. My job is to stop [the other team from scoring]."

Carpenter had thrown just 76 pitches when manager Tony La Russa took him out for pinch-hitter Chris Duncan in the top of the seventh. It appeared that Carpenter wanted to stay in the game as he reached for his bat before being told that he was done for the night.

"They had a chance to have [Duncan] bop one to tie the game," Carpenter said. "Unfortunately, it didn't work out."

Although the Cardinals didn't get the job done on Wednesday, Carpenter pointed out there's another day to win the pennant and advance to the World Series. He feels his team is in good hands with Jeff Suppan on the mound in Game 7.

"We have another one [Thursday]," Carpenter said. "[Suppan] has been big all year and in past postseasons. He is a professional guy who will come out and compete and go about his business and do the best job that he can. It's good to have him go out there and compete against this club."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.