Despite loss, Carpenter feeling better

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Chris Carpenter delivers a pitch against the San Diego Padres in the first inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, May 25, 2011, in San Diego.

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Chris Carpenter delivers a pitch against the San Diego Padres in the first inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, May 25, 2011, in San Diego. Photo by The Associated Press.

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Even though he wound up on the wrong side of the decision, Chris Carpenter thinks he’s getting closer.

Chase Headley doubled home the go-ahead run in a two-run eighth inning, and San Diego handed Carpenter and the St. Louis Cardinals a 3-1 loss Wednesday, ending the Padres’ season-worst five-game losing streak.

Carpenter (1-5), the 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner, has struggled to regain the form that has seen him lead all major league starters in winning percentage over the past seven seasons.

“It’s been weird because I feel like I’ve been throwing the ball pretty well,” he said. “There’s been a few starts that haven’t been very good. Besides that, I’ve felt that I’ve thrown the ball OK.”

Carpenter matched Mat Latos (2-6) into the eighth inning when the Padres broke through.

It was tied at 1 when Jason Bartlett reached on a two-out infield single, his third hit of the game. Headley followed with his tiebreaking double, continued to third on shortstop Tyler Greene’s error and scored on an infield single by Ryan Ludwick off Carpenter.

“Headley put a good at-bat on me,” said Carpenter. “I made a good pitch that wasn’t even on the plate and he (hits) it just out of the reach of (third baseman Daniel) Descalso.”

The Cardinals had their four-game winning streak stopped. San Diego, which has the NL’s worst home record at 9-20, scored more than two runs for the first time in nine games.

“It’s been several times and it’s been the same scenario,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. “We just can’t push enough offense to give him a chance to win.”

Carpenter gave up eight hits in a complete game, his 30th of his career. He struck out six and did not walk a batter — there were no walks in the game. Carpenter worked six innings or more for the eighth straight start and the 10th time in 11 starts this season.

Latos pitched eight strong innings, allowing one run and six hits while striking out seven. Heath Bell pitched a perfect ninth for his 10th save in 11 chances.

Latos pitched his best game in a troubled season. The young right-hander did not walk anyone in winning for the first time in seven decisions at home, dating to last season. He had lost 11 of his last 12 overall.

San Diego’s Brad Hawpe homered for the second straight game, a leadoff in the second that made it 1-all.

St. Louis scored in the first on Jon Jay’s leadoff double and a single by Lance Berkman.

Notes: Cardinals LF Matt Holliday (strained left quadriceps), the NL’s leading hitter at .349, did not start for the third straight game. ... In two career starts against St. Louis, Latos had allowed 15 runs in 51⁄3 innings. ... The Cardinals are 2-9 in Carpenter’s starts.

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