No smudge, no scuffs. Just a cramp, and it wasn't about to blemish his outing.
Carpenter looked every bit a Cards' ace as he threw the Detroit Tigers a curve, pitching St. Louis to a 5-0 victory Tuesday night for a 2-1 Series edge.
Carpenter used big breaking balls to spin three-hit ball for eight innings. And with Jim Edmonds hitting a key double and St. Louis taking advantage of a poor throw, the Cardinals returned their focus squarely to the field.
Gone were any reminders of the squabbling Kenny Rogers caused with his smudged left hand in Game 2.
Oh, Rogers heard plenty from the sellout crowd at Busch Stadium during pregame introductions, as chants of "Cheat-er!" echoed throughout the ballpark. But that was about the only noise the Tigers caused in this game.
Looking fierce with his three-day beard, Carpenter showed why he won the NL Cy Young Award last year and is a top contender this season. He struck out six, walked none and kept the Tigers' trio of Placido Polanco, Ivan Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson hitless in the Series.
Carpenter's lone problem came in the seventh inning. As Polanco led off by lining out to good friend Albert Pujols, Carpenter hopped off the mound and looked at his hand.
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, a trainer and the entire St. Louis infield converged on the mound, peering at Carpenter's bare right hand. Plate umpire Wally Bell also went out to check as reliever Josh Kinney began warming up in a hurry.
All in all, it certainly was a lot more attention than Rogers attracted on the field after a yellowish-brown mark was spotted on his hand — he said it was a mix of dirt, spit and resin, while others claimed it was illegal pine tar.
A moment later, Carpenter was deemed to be OK. He proved it, too, by continuing to set down the Tigers to constant cheers. He drew his biggest roar when he got a standing ovation as he came to bat in the eighth.
Braden Looper took over in the ninth and finished the combined three-hitter.
Game 4 will be Wednesday night, provided a forecast of steady rain holds off. If it does, NL championship series MVP Jeff Suppan will start against Jeremy Bonderman.
The Tigers had homered in all 10 postseason games before Carpenter stopped them. And a Detroit team that averaged 5 1/2 runs per game throughout the AL playoffs has scored a total of five in the World Series.
It was somewhat of a surprise, too. Carpenter gave up a season-high seven runs at Detroit in June, and the Tigers' starting lineup was hitting .356 against him.