St. Louis manager Tony La Russa tied Sparky Anderson for third place for wins.
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Even with a five-run lead in the first inning against the last-place Pittsburgh Pirates, Chris Carpenter took nothing for granted.
Carpenter allowed just four hits and three runs in eight innings, becoming the majors' first 18-game winner, as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Pirates 8-3 Wednesday night.
"If you go out there relaxed, you're going to give up runs," Carpenter said. "You have to go out and continue to compete and make pitches."
The Cardinals used five singles to jump to the early lead and knock Pittsburgh starter Kip Wells (7-13) out of the game in the first inning. That was more than enough for Carpenter (18-4) even though he was not sharp early.
"If you think you're going to breeze through the game because you have a five-run lead, it's not going to happen," he said.
"Early on my command with my fastball wasn't very good. Fortunately, as the game went on I got better. My breaking ball was pretty good, and that's what got me through for the most part."
Carpenter improved to 10-0 in his last 13 starts, all St. Louis victories, and 10-0 on the road this season.
"He's been throwing the ball unbelievably," said shortstop David Eckstein, who had three hits and drove in two runs for the Cardinals.
St. Louis manager Tony La Russa tied Sparky Anderson for third place on baseball's managerial wins list with his 2,194th career victory.
Only Connie Mack (3,731) and John McGraw (2,763) have won more games.
"One of the great things about this is that it brings attention to a great, great man in Sparky," La Russa said. "To be honest, I've never been in a situation that hasn't been ideal for generating wins."
Albert Pujols hit his 34th home run and John Rodriguez homered and drove in three runs for St. Louis, which has won 16 of the last 19 meetings against the Pirates.
The teams engaged in a brief shoving match 90 minutes before the game, prompting umpires to ask for a pregame meeting between managers La Russa and Lloyd McClendon. The game was played without incident, and both managers refused comment after the game.
Pittsburgh reliever Rick White, however, did have something to say. White brushed back Hector Luna in the seventh inning Tuesday, one day after Luna's collision with Jose Castillo at second base resulted in a season-ending knee injury for the Pirates' second baseman.
"I think the whole thing has gotten blown out of proportion," White said. "[St. Louis pitching coach Dave] Duncan asked me a question today and probably shouldn't have. If Tony had a question to ask, then Tony should have come up and asked me. I would have talked to him.
"Instead, he went through Duncan and Skip [McClendon] didn't like it too much. And whatever happened, happened."
Eckstein's third hit, a two-out triple to left-center field off White, scored Luna to give St. Louis a 7-3 lead in the eighth. Luna had walked with one out and stolen second base. Pujols added a solo homer in the ninth.
The Pirates' Rob Mackowiak tripled in the seventh inning, his third hit of the game, and scored on Ty Wigginton's groundout to make it 6-3.