TORONTO (AP) — Just like he did four years ago, Chris Carpenter returned to Toronto and shut down the Blue Jays.
Carpenter pitched eight impressive innings and Matt Holliday hit an RBI single off Kevin Gregg with two out in the ninth, leading the St. Louis Cardinals to a 1-0 victory Wednesday night.
Carpenter was selected by Toronto in the first round of the 1993 draft and pitched for the Blue Jays for six seasons before signing a free-agent deal with St. Louis in 2002. He struck out 10 in a one-hitter in his only other start against his former team, a 7-0 St. Louis victory on June 14, 2005.
Carpenter (9-1) was almost as good in this one. The right-hander allowed three hits, walked four and struck out seven, winning consecutive starts for the first time since April 27 and May 2.
"It was funny," Holliday said. "Before the game we saw the stats from the one time he pitched here as the opposition. Nine innings, 10 strikeouts, one hit. We were all kind of like 'Well, we'd take one of those tonight,' and he almost gave it to us."
It wasn't so funny for the Blue Jays, who were unable to mount any kind of offense against the 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner, who lowered his ERA to 2.63.
"I saw two-seamers, I saw curveballs, I saw sliders, I even saw a couple of changeups that I thought he wasn't even using anymore," Jose Bautista said. "His breaking ball moves a lot and it's slow so it's a real change in speed from his fastball."
Carpenter has gone eight starts since his last loss, May 13 against Houston.
"When you've got Carp, you've got a chance," Holliday said. "You just keep trying to scratch out a couple of runs because, when he's pitching well, they're not going to get much."
Carpenter struggled with his curveball in the first few innings but ended his outing by setting down 12 of 13.
"My breaking ball was very inconsistent early on so it cost me some pitches but I was able to make pitches when I had to and get out of some situations," he said.
Holliday came up with runners on the corners and lined a full-count pitch from Gregg into left field to give St. Louis the lead. Holliday's homer streak ended at four games but the surging slugger had two hits and is 13 for 22 with 11 RBIs in his last five games.
Holliday was surprised to get a slider from Gregg after seeing cutters and fastballs throughout the rest of the at-bat.
"I was able to get just enough of it and find a spot," Holliday said.
Gregg said he felt good about his decision to throw Holliday a breaking ball.
"I wouldn't take it back, I'd do that pitch again," Gregg said.
Randy Winn set up Holliday's hit with a one-out single and moved to third on Felipe Lopez's base hit to center with two down.
"We earned that one in the ninth inning with some great at-bats against Gregg, who's very tough," manager Tony La Russa said.
Ryan Franklin worked the ninth for his 14th save in 15 chances, completing the four-hitter.
The Blue Jays wasted a terrific start by Ricky Romero, who matched Carpenter with eight scoreless frames. The left-hander allowed eight hits — four by Albert Pujols — walked one and struck out five.
Winn finished with three hits for the Cardinals, who have won four of five.
The Cardinals loaded the bases with none out in the first, but Felipe Lopez was thrown out at the plate on Nick Stavinoha's fielder's choice and Romero got out of the jam by striking out David Freese and Colby Rasmus.
The Blue Jays put runners on first and second in the third, but Carpenter struck out Adam Lind to end the threat.
Pujols led off the eighth with a broken-bat double into the left-field corner but was caught in a rundown when Romero sprang off the mound to field Stavinoha's bunt attempt. Stavinoha took second on the play but Freese struck out and Rasmus flied out.
NOTES: The shutout was the sixth for St. Louis, while Toronto was blanked for the fifth time. ... St. Louis OF Ryan Ludwick, who left Tuesday's game with a sore left calf, was held out of the starting lineup, while OF Fred Lewis (day off) did not start for the Blue Jays. ... Toronto 3B Edwin Encarnacion cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Las Vegas. ... Cardinals RHP Adam Wainwright (10-4) faces Blue Jays RHP Brandon Morrow (4-5) in Thursday's series finale.