All in all, quite a damper on the day for a Nationals Park-record 45,017 red-wearing, towel-twirling fans witnessing the first major-league postseason game in the nation's capital in 79 years.
Three relievers finished the shutout for the Cardinals, who can end the best-of-five series in Thursday's Game 4 at Washington.
Kyle Lohse will start for St. Louis. Ross Detwiler pitches for Washington, which is sticking to its long-stated plan of keeping Stephen Strasburg on the sideline the rest of the way.
The Cardinals won 10 fewer games than the majors-best Nationals this season and finished second in the NL Central, nine games behind Cincinnati, sneaking into the postseason as the league's second wild-card under this year's new format. But the Cardinals become a different bunch in the high-pressure playoffs - no matter that slugger Albert Pujols and manager Tony La Russa are no longer around.
Carpenter still is, even though even he didn't expect to be pitching this year when he encountered problems during spring training and needed an operation in July to correct a nerve problem. The top rib on his right side was removed, along with connecting muscles.
He returned Sept. 21, going 0-2 in three starts totaling 17 innings, so it wasn't clear how he'd fare Wednesday. Yeah, right. Carpenter allowed seven hits and walked two across his 52/3 innings to improve to 10-2 over his career in the postseason. That includes a 4-0 mark while helping another group of wild-card Cardinals take the title in the 2011 World Series, when he won Game 7 against Texas.
With the exception of Ian Desmond - 3 for 4 on Wednesday, 7 for 12 in the series - the Nationals' hitters are struggling mightily. They've scored a total of seven runs in the playoffs and went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base in Game 3.
Rookie phenom Bryce Harper's woes, in particular, stand out: He went 0 for 5, dropping to 1 for 15.
Carpenter was pretty good with a bat in his hands, collecting a pair of hits, including a double off the wall that was about a foot or two away from being a homer. When he reached second base, he raised his right fist.
Similarly, neither club could be sure which Edwin Jackson would show up for NL East champion Washington, a year after he was part of the Cardinals' championship team: the one who struck out 10 and allowed one unearned run in eight innings against St. Louis on Aug. 30, or the one who lasted only 11/3 innings in a loss to the Cardinals on Sept. 28.
Much closer to the second version, it turned out, although he did recover from a rough start to retire eight of his last 10 batters Wednesday.