Deep into the game that may come to define his time with the Cardinals, Chris Carpenter faced Ryan Howard and fell behind the Philadelphia Phillies slugger, three balls to no strikes. The Cardinals led the deciding Game 5 of the National League division series, 1-0, and catcher Yadier Molina sensed Howard would swing for a tie on the next pitch.
Sitting at his locker Wednesday at the team’s spring training complex, Molina recalled how he peered out at Carpenter and urged caution.

Carpenter gave him a telling glare.

“We have got that thing on the mound, out there, where we can communicate (with little gestures),” Molina said. “His was like, ‘So what?’ He threw it down the middle. Pop-up. With a 3-0 count. He saw me and just started to laugh. It was, ‘OK, OK, he’s on it. He’s got this.’ That’s Carp.”

Howard’s fly out was the first out of the seventh inning and it was Howard who made the last out in the ninth as Carpenter finished a 1-0 win, a winner-take-all shutout at Philadelphia that catapulted the Cardinals toward their World Series title. That was the first of Carpenter’s four wins that postseason, and that night is the only time in all the years they’ve spent as a battery that Molina celebrated a clincher of any type by rushing toward Carpenter’s arms. Usually it’s been a closer waiting for him.

That night in Philadelphia it was Carpenter who caught Molina.

“One of the great moments in my life,” Molina said Wednesday.