St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Chris Carpenter smiles after getting...

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Chris Carpenter smiles after getting Philadelphia Phillies' Ryan Howard out on a fly to right field during the seventh inning. (Oct. 7, 2011) Credit: AP

PHILADELPHIA -- First the Yankees were eliminated, then the Phillies, both within a 24-hour span. For the Mets and their tortured fan base, the month of October doesn't get much better than that.

Chris Carpenter outdueled close friend Roy Halladay and the Cardinals scored the game's only run on Skip Schumaker's RBI double in the first inning in a 1-0 victory over the Phillies Friday night in Game 5 of their National League Division Series.

"It was an unbelievable night," said Carpenter, who improved to 6-2 in the postseason with his first shutout. "You look at that whole game, and everything that went on, it's just a tremendous job by our ballclub."

St. Louis, the wild card, will face the NL Central champion Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Championship Series, which begins Sunday.

On the final play of the game, Ryan Howard grounded to second, went down hard as he left the batter's box and remained on the ground. Afterward, Howard -- still in uniform -- limped to his locker on crutches. He is scheduled for an MRI and the Phillies fear that he may have torn his left Achilles tendon, an injury that could affect his readiness for next season.

The Carpenter-Halladay showdown was only the third time in history that former Cy Young Award winners opposed each other in a deciding game. Carpenter allowed only three hits -- none after Chase Utley's one-out single in the sixth inning -- and no walks for a complete-game, 110-pitch victory. "I think he'll remember this forever," manager Tony La Russa said, "and so will the Cardinals fans."

Halladay allowed six hits in eight innings, and the two costly ones came from the game's first two batters. Rafael Furcal led off with a triple, Schumaker followed with a double, and that was that. The Phillies, after a franchise-record 102 wins, couldn't bail out their ace.

"This is why you play -- to be in these games," Halladay said. "When I came over here, I didn't think it was going to be easy. I knew it was going to be hard. Hopefully we'll get to the point where things go our way."

The Phillies had never lost a playoff series after leading two games to one, as they did in this one. The second-largest crowd (46,530) in Citizens Bank Park history saw it happen.

"I don't know what to say," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "I feel very empty."

The Yankees seemed to crumble under the weight of their own massive expectations in Thursday night's ALDS Game 5, which happened to be in their own Bronx back yard. The Phillies faced similar tension Friday night, and their opponent could sense it.

After all, the Cardinals barely squeezed into the postseason on the final day of the season. Like the Tigers a day earlier, they were the looser bunch.

The problem for the Phillies was Carpenter, who made it look easy during some stretches and wriggled free of trouble when it did pop up. "Offensively, we know we're capable of doing more, but we didn't," Raul Ibañez said. "We got beat."

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