Righthander Chris Carpenter has been in this position four times before, i.e., the chance to close out a postseason series.

Carpenter, who will start Game 6 of the National League championship series Sunday night, is hopeful of pitching the Cardinals into the World Series. It will mark the third time in the last two years and the fifth time in his career that he will start a game which will either push the Cardinals to the next round or pave their way to the throne room, as happened when he started and won Game 7 of the 2011 World Series.

Carpenter pitched a complete game and won the decisive Game 5 of the division series with Philadelphia last year. In 2006, he won the clinching game against San Diego in the division round but lost to the New York Mets in Game 6 of the league championship series although the Cardinals wrapped it up in Game 7.

Having made only three regular-season starts and two in the postseason, Carpenter, who had surgery to alleviate a nerve problem on July 19, admittedly is searching for consistency. In his most recent outing, a 7-1 Game 2 loss in this series to the San Francisco Giants and Ryan Vogelsong, whom he will face again on Sunday night, Carpenter gave up six hits and five runs in four innings. A couple of the hits were of the scratch variety and three of the runs scored when Carpenter was charged with a throwing error.