HOUSTON — Chris Carpenter became baseball's first 20-game winner this season, and the St. Louis Cardinals took advantage of Roger Clemens' injury to beat the Houston Astros, 4-2, Saturday night.
Clemens came out after five innings because of a strained left hamstring, leaving him without a decision in a marquee matchup of NL Cy Young Award candidates. Clemens said he hoped to make his next start Friday at Milwaukee.
Carpenter (20-4) won his 12th consecutive decision over 15 starts, pitching his major league-leading seventh complete game.
The right-hander gave up eight hits, including four for extra bases, in his 20th career complete game. It was his fourth victory this season over Houston, which has managed only three runs off him in 33 innings. He struck out eight, walked two and threw 120 pitches.
It also was Carpenter's 10th straight road victory, the first NL pitcher to accomplish that since the Cardinals' Bob Gibson won 12 in a row in 1970.
Clemens said he tweaked his hamstring during his at-bat in the second inning, when he struck out trying to bunt.
There was an audible, collective groan heard from the crowd when Chris Burke was introduced to bat for Clemens in the bottom of the fifth.
Clemens leads the major leagues with a 1.52 earned-run average, but his record is only 11-6. Houston has been shut out eight times in games Clemens has started.
The Astros trailed, 2-1, when Clemens left, but Lance Berkman's leadoff homer in the sixth took him off the hook. Clemens gave up four singles, two of them when Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina dribbled balls down the third base line.