ST. LOUIS -- When it mattered, Chris Carpenter was at his best.
Carpenter, who was unbeatable from early June until well into September, was named the National League's Cy Young Award winner on Thursday, giving the Cardinals their first Cy Young since 1970. The New Hampshire native edged out Florida's Dontrelle Willis in the closest vote since 1998.
Carpenter received 132 points in the 5-3-1 voting system used by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Out of 32 ballots, the right-hander received 19 first-place votes and 12 second-place mentions, with just one voter placing him third.
Willis, the league leader in wins, finished second and was the only other pitcher named on every ballot. The Marlins lefty received 112 points on 11 first-place votes, 18 second-place and three third-place tallies. Clemens, who paced the league in ERA, was a distant third with 40 points (two first-place, two second-place, 24 third-place).
No other pitcher received any higher than a third-place vote. Roy Oswalt of Houston was third on two ballots, and the Nationals' Chad Cordero and the Astros' Andy Pettitte received one mention each.
Carpenter finished the season with a 21-5 record, 2.83 ERA and 213 strikeouts against 51 walks over 241 2/3 innings pitched. He racked up seven complete games and four shutouts and ranked in the top 10 in the league in at least 12 different pitching categories.
Following a loss to Boston on June 8, Carpenter went on one of the most amazing runs baseball has seen in quite a long time. In each of his next 16 starts, Carpenter lasted at least seven innings and allowed no more than three earned runs, and the Cardinals won all 16 games. He totaled 17 straight starts without the Cardinals losing, and 18 in a row without being charged with a defeat himself.
His numbers tailed off a bit over his final starts, as Carpenter lost a bit of focus after the Cardinals secured their second straight National League Central championship. Willis passed Carpenter in wins and ERA, inserting himself back into the discussion after a July slump. Clemens, meanwhile, was utterly dominant in what he could control, posting a ridiculous 1.87 ERA at tricky Minute Maid Park. However, he fell 30 innings short of the other two candidates.
Probably more important to voters, a serious dearth of run support limited the future Hall of Famer to 13 wins.
Carpenter is the second pitcher in Cardinals history to win the Cy Young, joining Bob Gibson, who won the award in 1968 and 1970. It was the third award for Carpenter this fall, following recognition as NL pitcher of the year by The Sporting News and in the Players' Choice Awards.