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Francis beats Carpenter, KC shuts out Cards 3-0

Chris Carpenter has pitched long enough to understand that some games are just a part of the fabric of baseball, and getting upset about them leads only to more failure.

The St. Louis right-hander threw well Friday night, but Jeff Francis threw a little better, leading Kansas City to a 3-0 victory over Carpenter and the Cardinals.

"I was good all night. I threw the ball well," Carpenter said.

Through the first six innings, Francis (1-5) and Carpenter (1-4) were locked in a mirror-image duel. Both had thrown 76 pitches and allowed five hits and no runs. Carpenter had walked none and struck out five. Francis had walked two and struck out five.

But that changed in the seventh when Billy Butler led off with a single, igniting a three-run rally the Cardinals could not respond to.

Wilson Betemit put Butler on third with a double into center field that Colby Rasmus barely missed on an attempted diving catch. After Brayan Pena lifted a sacrifice fly to right, Chris Getz singled putting runners at the corners, and Alcides Escobar hit an RBI single to right, just in front of Jon Jay.

Trevor Miller relieved Carpenter and loaded the bases with a four-pitch walk to Alex Gordon before Melky Cabrera made it 3-0 with a sacrifice fly.

"I got a ball in the middle of the plate to Butler," Carpenter said. "Made an OK pitch to Betemit that was up there for a while but it found a spot. On the Escobar base hit, I left it up there a bit."

Carpenter went 6 1-3 innings and gave up three runs and nine hits. He struck out five and did not give up a walk.

Does he find himself getting discouraged?

"No. I find myself getting ready for the next start," he said. "That's what you have to do. You have to continue to grind and do the things you have to do to get ready, then go out and pitch."

Francis threw 7 2-3 innings and gave up six hits and two runs, walked two and struck out six, raising his career record over the Cardinals to 5-1 and helping the Royals to their first shutout of their state rivals in 61 interleague games.

Francis was relieved in the eighth after giving up a single to Ryan Theriot and striking out Rasmus for the third time.

Aaron Crow got the final out of the eighth. Joakim Soria worked a 1-2-3 ninth to complete the shutout with his seventh save in nine opportunities.

"He was sharp. He pitched very well," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said of Carpenter. "We messed up a couple of situations on offense and couldn't get him the lead. It could have been a different game. We just couldn't break through. When they had a chance to have something to swing at, they made it happen."

Eric Hosmer singled in the fourth but was doubled off first when Jeff Francoeur flied out to right, becoming the eighth Royal in three games to make an out on the basepaths.

Albert Pujols doubled with one out in the sixth and has reached base with either a hit or a walk in 45 of the 46 games he's played against his hometown team. The Royals then intentionally walked Matt Holliday, who came in with a National League-leading .357 average. The strategy worked perfectly when Allen Craig bounced into a 6-4-3 double play.

NOTES: Royals SS Escobar made a terrific play on Pete Kozma leading off the eighth. Kozma grounded a ball to third baseman Betemit, who fumbled it, and Escobar made a barehanded pickup and an off-balance throw to get the runner at first. ... Until their 10-inning, 3-2 victory over Texas on Thursday night, the Royals had not had 14 or more hits in a game without an extra base hit since Aug. 31, 2004, against Detroit. ... Carpenter retired the side on six pitches in the second inning. ... Pujols has reached safely in all 31 games he's played in Kansas City. ... The attendance of 26,816 was probably a disappointment to the Royals, who are used to drawing more than 30,000 when they host their state rivals.