Chris Carpenter tossed eight solid innings and Allen Craig homered twice as the St. Louis Cardinals continued their push toward a postseason berth with a 5-0 road triumph over the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday.
Albert Pujols belted his National League-leading 36th homer for St. Louis, which won for the ninth time in 11 contests and moved to within 3 1/2 games of Atlanta in the race for the wild card. The Braves dropped a 7-5 decision to the New York Mets earlier on Sunday.
The Cardinals remained 6 1/2 games behind the National League Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers, who posted an 8-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
Carpenter (10-9) improved to 7-2 in his career against the Phillies after allowing eight hits and striking out five.
Entering the game with just three hits in 20 career at-bats against Cole Hamels (14-9), Pujols deposited the hurler's first pitch just inside the left-field foul pole. The two-run blast in the first inning gave him 95 RBIs for the season.
After failing to execute a bunt on two occasions, Craig doubled the advantage in the sixth and went deep again in the eighth. The homers were his first since Aug. 17, when he belted two against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Hamels suffered his second consecutive loss permitted four runs on seven hits for Philadelphia (98-53), which remained four wins away from setting a single-season franchise record.