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Game 3: NLCS coming up aces

By R.B. Fallstrom
Associated Press / October 12, 2011

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ST. LOUIS - On the day he pitches, Chris Carpenter can be an ornery cuss. He prowls the mound, barks at hitters, and on at least one occasion has been known to invite a basepath collision.

Though just an 11-game winner for the St. Louis Cardinals , the 36-year-old righthander has been dominant since midseason. Apparently in the Milwaukee Brewers’ heads, too, heading into a matchup of aces in Game 3 of the NL Championship Series tonight against 17-game winner Yovani Gallardo. The teams split the first two games in Milwaukee.

“Yo has been our best guy, he loves being in these situations,’’ Brewers leadoff man Corey Hart said. “It’s our guy against their guy. Both are best guys.’’

Carpenter mixed it up with volatile Nyjer Morgan in September and was labeled a “phony’’ by Brewers pitcher Zack Greinke prior to the series.

Nothing phony about the results.

Carpenter shut down Milwaukee twice in September, allowing only two runs in 17 innings to fuel an improbable drive for the NL wild-card berth. He’s coming off a three-hit shutout against Roy Halladay that eliminated the favored Phillies in the NL Division Series.

Carpenter has been clutch in the postseason during his career, too, going 6-2 with a 2.94 ERA.

Carpenter dismisses Greinke’s assessment. “He doesn’t know me, he’s never been a teammate of mine, he can say what he wants,’’ Carpenter said.

The Brewers were on their best behavior yesterday, skirting the issue of bad blood.

Making a reference to Greinke’s battle with social anxiety disorder, manager Ron Roenicke said the pitcher’s comments were “no big deal’’ and told reporters, “You guys know Zack, and you know what he’s going to say when you ask questions.’’

Morgan, who flung a wad of chewing tobacco at Carpenter in a shouting match in early September and ridiculed the Cardinals on Twitter, had nothing to say.

Gallardo needs to ignore a different sort of clutter - his utter lack of success against the Cardinals.

The 25-year-old righthander has been the Brewers’ only consistent starter in the postseason, with an 0.86 ERA in 21 innings, and is coming off a strong finishing stretch. He just can’t beat the Cardinals, saddled with a 1-7 career record.

“Well, I can’t explain it,’’ Gallardo said. “I’m 1-7 against these guys but I try to forget about those things. I mean, even if it goes the other way around, 7-1.’’

Dueling Carpenter is plenty for him now.

“We all know what kind of pitcher he is. He has great stuff and obviously he’s had great success,’’ Gallardo said.

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