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Cardinals' Second Half Starts Off Right: Carpenter Cuts Down Dodgers 7-1

St. Louis, MO (Sports Network) - Chris Carpenter pitched eight strong innings and remained unbeaten against the Dodgers, and the St. Louis Cardinals started the post All-Star break with a 7-1 win in the opener of a four-game series.

Carpenter (10-3), who had lost his previous two starts, allowing a total of 18 hits and 11 earned runs over nine innings, was marvelous Thursday night. The right-hander permitted four hits, including a homer by Andre Ethier in the fourth inning, and moved to 6-0 in eight lifetime starts against the Dodgers. Carpenter, who had six strikeouts without walking a batter, upped his mark to 19-4 lifetime against NL West clubs.

Albert Pujols had three hits and scored once, while Allen Craig knocked in two runs for the Cardinals, who lost four of their last six games just prior to the break. They're within a half-game of Cincinnati for first place in the NL Central.

Ethier had two hits for Los Angeles, which had won three of four against the Cubs just prior to the unofficial midseason point.

Manny Ramirez, who had been out since June 29 due to a strained right hamstring, was activated off the disabled list and went 0-for-3.

Clayton Kershaw (9-5) was charged with eight hits and five runs -- four earned -- over 4 1/3 innings to have a two-start winning streak snapped.

St. Louis loaded the bases with nobody out in the opening inning before Matt Holliday and Craig each knocked in runs via fielder's choice ground balls.

Ethier homered to right-center with one out in the fourth, but the Cardinals tacked on two runs in the bottom of the inning. Yadier Molina singled to left and went to second on Ramirez's error. Aaron Miles followed with an RBI single to left. Miles went to second on the throw home and scored on Felipe Lopez's two-out double to left.

Pujols doubled to start the fifth and scored on Craig's sacrifice fly to center.

Jon Jay extended his hitting streak to 12 games with an RBI double in the seventh inning, and he scored on Molina's base hit to center.

St. Louis has an 18-4 home mark in the last 22 regular season games against the Dodgers...The Cardinals handed general manager John Mozeliak a three-year contract extension on Thursday, keeping him in St. Louis through the 2013 campaign...St. Louis placed outfielder Nick Stavinoha on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right shoulder. The team also recalled Craig from Triple- A Memphis. The Cardinals also announced right-handed pitcher Adam Ottavino, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list on July 4, will undergo a procedure to repair a tear in his throwing shoulder...Ramirez went 0-for-9 with five strikeouts during a three-game rehab stint with Single-A Inland Empire from Sunday-Tuesday. The Dodgers opened a roster spot for Ramirez by placing outfielder Reed Johnson on the 15-day DL with a lower back injury.