Matt Slocum, Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA — Roy Halladay and Chris Carpenter grew up together with the Toronto Blue Jays, and the BFFs have spent plenty of time competing on golf courses and fishing boats.
The stakes will be much higher when the All-Stars go head-to-head on a mound for the first time Friday night.
It'll be Halladay vs. Carpenter in Game 5 with a berth in the NL championship series on the line for the Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals.
"You definitely look forward to it," Halladay said Thursday. "Not only is Chris a good pitcher, but obviously a good friend. We've talked about this scenario. I think it's something we're both looking forward to. It's going to be a challenge.
"Going in, you know what you're up against, you know how good they are, you know how good Chris is. We haven't got a chance to pitch against each other, and if you're going to do it for the first time, might as well be now," he said.
The best buddies already have made offseason plans for a fishing trip. One of them will get a head start on his vacation.
"It's been a pretty good friendship for a long time," Carpenter said. "We've pitched together, we've vacationed together, we communicate a bunch during the offseason and during the season. He just invited me to go fishing this winter, so I mean, we've got a real good relationship. It's going to be a lot of fun."
This is a "dream matchup," according to Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, who set it up by pitching Carpenter on three days' rest for the first time in his career in Game 2.
"They've got so much common history and they're both great pitchers, great competitors, and now we're going to do it," La Russa said. "It's going to be as good as it gets. We're looking forward to being there and trying our best. And they are so close, they both have a lot of weapons. You can see each of those guys four times and they'll give you something different all four times. Halladay is every bit as good as his record and his awards and all that, but Carp is in that same category."
The Phillies, heavy favorites entering the division series, are counting on the ace of their star-studded rotation to outduel his pal and put away those pesky Cardinals.
The pressure will be on Halladay, though he downplays it. Nothing less than a World Series title will satisfy anyone in Philadelphia. Those franchise-record 102 regular-season wins won't mean a thing if the Phillies don't advance.
"I don't think you can get too caught up in what game it is, and what it means," Halladay said. "I think if you go out thinking: 'Wow, this is everything, all-in-one,' I think it can make too much out of it."
Halladay beat the Cardinals in the opener, despite a shaky start. He allowed a three-run homer to Lance Berkman in the first inning, but dominated the rest of the way. Halladay retired the last 21 batters he faced, and turned an eight-run lead over to the bullpen in an 11-6 win. He allowed three runs and three hits, striking out eight in eight innings.
Carpenter struggled in his start, allowing four runs and five hits in three innings in his shortest outing of the season. But the Cardinals overcame a 4-0 deficit against Cliff Lee and beat the Phillies 5-4 to even the series.
"Carp is all about winning, bottom line," said third baseman David Freese, who had four RBIs on a homer and double in Game 4. "That's what he said after his outing. We fought back, and that's what Carp wants, he wants to win. And he wants that ball, Game 5, and he's going to be ready. He knows what we're going up against in Philly with Halladay and their offense, but I think that they understand that we're going to bring our A game. And it's going to be exciting. It's going to be a lot of fun, and we'll see what happens."
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