PHOENIX, Ariz. – The final and possibly biggest question mark remaining in the Cardinals starting rotation was turned into a period on Monday. Exclamation point still pending.

Todd Wellemeyer – who went only five innings and gave up 12 hits and five runs in his season debut against the Pirates – followed up his subpar first outing giving up only seven hits and one run against the Diamondbacks.

Prior to Monday’s game, Wellemeyer was the only St. Louis starter to not have recorded a win. There was a little concern entering the game that the adjustments he made following last week’s start would only complicate the situation and lessen his performance. The results were quite the opposite.

And while he allowed one run, he found just enough support from his offense with two solo homers by Albert Pujols and Brian Barden.

Is there anyone still questioning the Cardinals possibilities for this year? It apparently doesn’t matter who is in the lineup for the Redbirds. Manager Tony La Russa throws a different lineup onto the field nearly every night.

Skip Schumaker is tied for fourth most hits on the team so far this season and even found himself granted a night off in favor of Barden, and La Russa proved himself right again. Barden’s home run in the eighth inning was the difference in the Cardinals stretching their winning streak to five games.

Hot-hitting Ryan Ludwick extended his hitting streak to six games, and Pujols’ bomb was his fourth of the season, trailing only Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria for most in the majors.

Now it’s Chris Carpenter’s turn to prove that his season debut wasn’t a fluke. Carpenter’s effort put him at the top of the list of starters. No other St. Louis starter has given up fewer hits or fewer runs so far this season, and in only seven innings, he is third (7) on the staff in strike outs behind Adam Wainwright (11) and Kyle Lohse who have thrown 3.1 and 9.0 more innings respectively.

All eyes will once again be on Carpenter tonight as he attempts to keep his remarkable come-back story on the positive side.

Tonight he will face a Diamondbacks lineup with no player batting over .214 (minimum two at bats) against Carpenter. Meanwhile, the St. Louis sluggers will face an ailing Max Scherzer who is making his season debut after pitching for the organization’s Class A squad.

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