Chris Carpenter tossed a three-hitter to outpitch old pal Roy Halladay in a duel for the ages, and the St. Louis Cardinals edged the Philadelphia Phillies 1-0 in the deciding Game 5 of their NL playoff series.

The wild-card Cardinals scored in the first inning when Rafael Furcal led off with a triple and Skip Schumaker followed with a double, and that was it.

The heavily favored Phillies never broke through against Carpenter. Ryan Howard grounded out to end the game and hurt his leg coming out of the batter's box -- he limped a couple of steps and then crumpled to the ground as St. Louis celebrated.

The Cardinals needed a monumental collapse by Atlanta in the final month of the regular just to reach the playoffs, and now they're heading to Milwaukee for the NL championship series starting Sunday.

Trailing two games to one, the Cardinals began their comeback with a win in Game 4. That night in St. Louis, a squirrel scampered across home plate as Schumaker batted in the middle innings -- if the Cardinals keep winning, their fans will certainly go nuts, thanks to their "Rally Squirrel."

Coincidentally, a squirrel was caught at Citizens Bank Park before Game 5. Not a good omen, apparently, for the Phillies.

Carpenter was over 100 pitches when he took the mound in the ninth. He retired Chase Utley on a fly to the warning track in center and got Hunter Pence on a grounder.

Howard was next, and Carpenter got the big slugger to end a most improbable series win.

Catcher Yadier Molina threw his mask toward the mound, Carpenter turned to the left of first looking for someone to celebrate with before his teammates finally got there, led by Albert Pujols. The congregation settled at second base, as just off to the right, while Howard was carried off the field and into his dugout.