Carpenter gets first win for Cards

Tony La Russa’s absence was felt for sure by the St. Louis Cardinals. Still, they found a way to win without their veteran manager, who’s not coming back until their six-game road trip is over.

Chris Carpenter got his first win, Daniel Descalso had a two-out, bases-loaded single in the eighth off Kerry Wood and the Cardinals beat the Chicago Cubs 6-4 on Tuesday night.

La Russa was in Arizona undergoing tests at the Mayo Clinic after general manager John Mozeliak said he was diagnosed with shingles. La Russa had been having trouble with vision in his right eye, had facial swelling and had been in pain. He won’t be with the team for the remaining two games at Wrigley Field or the next three in Cincinnati so he can rest and allow medication to take effect.

“Nothing has changed in terms of his condition – being worse than what we were led on to believe or anything of that nature,” Mozeliak said. “That part’s good news. Now he just has to allow the medication to work.”

Bench coach Joe Pettini ran the team and will continue to do so until the road trip concludes.

“That’s the No. 1 priority right now, is the skipper,” Pettini said. “We were glad when he finally went out to find out what’s going on with him. Hopefully taking the week off will help him get over this thing for good and hopefully when we get back he’s ready to step back in the dugout.”

Carpenter (1-2) allowed four runs and 13 singles over seven innings to get his first win since last Sept. 30. He threw 116 pitches to earn the win in his eighth start of the season. Eduardo Sanchez pitched the ninth for his fourth save in as many chances.

Carpenter said La Russa was definitely on the minds of the players.

“I think everybody has some concern,” Carpenter said. “I hope that’s why he finally decided to take some time off.”

Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano went seven innings, giving up eight hits and four runs.

St. Louis loaded the bases off Wood (1-2) in the eighth. Pujols singled, Matt Holliday walked and after both runners moved up on a fly ball, Wood intentionally walked Yadier Molina. Nick Punto lined out before Descalso, the No. 8 hitter, delivered his hit to right.

“That was a big hit for a lot of people in this room. It was obviously nice to get Carpenter his first win, and there’s a lot going on today,” Descalso said.

Chicago had scored two in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game.

“We’re going to be in close games, that’s kinda the way it’s been all year. I don’t expect a lot to change,” Wood said. “This one stings a little bit because we scored two there the half-inning before and got us back in the game.”

After the Cubs loaded the bases for the third time in the game, Carlos Pena hit a sacrifice fly. Starlin Castro, in a 2-for-25 slump entering the game and dropped to seventh in the batting order, then dumped an RBI single to right to tie it at 4-4 in the seventh

The Cards went ahead with two in the fourth, a rally cut short by a successful appeal play from the Cubs on an apparent sacrifice fly by Descalso turned into an inning-ending double play.

Lance Berkman walked and scored on Molina’s double to tie the game at 2. Punto then hit a liner to left that went all the way to the wall after Alfonso Soriano slipped, with Molina scoring and Punto getting a triple.

When Descalso hit a medium fly ball to center, Punto beat Marlon Byrd’s throw to the plate. But the Cubs threw to third, where umpire Paul Nauert ruled that Punto left too soon and was out, a call that brought Pettini out to question the call.

St. Louis tacked on a run in the seventh on a pair of singles, sacrifice by Carpenter and sacrifice fly by former Cub Ryan Theriot. With runners at second and third, Theriot hit a liner to right. Kosuke Fukudome made a strong throw to the plate, but Chicago catcher Koyie Hill, who’d entered the game in the first when Geovany Soto left with a groin strain, couldn’t handle it as Punto scored for a 4-2 lead.

“Things happen,” Zambrano said of the defense behind him. “My job is to pitch and control what I do on the mound.”

Chicago loaded the bases twice in the first. Carpenter walked leadoff batter Fukudome and Darwin Barney and Byrd followed with singles to load the bases. Aramis Ramirez hit a two-run single to center and the Cubs loaded the bases again before Hill popped out.

Zambrano also got out of a big jam in the first with just one run scoring on Holliday’s RBI single. Zambrano issued an intentional walk to Berkman to load the bases before Molina grounded into an inning-double play.

Notes: Soto will have an MRI on Wednesday to determine the extent of his injury. The Cubs are expected to summon a catcher from the minors. … Theriot, who played on Cubs’ division winners in 2007 and 2008, was booed every at-bat, the aftermath of comments he made in December that he was now on “the right side” of the rivalry.