First half goals rock United ...United were left feeling aggrieved as key decisions and moments went against them at Home Park and, in the end, two first half goals left them with too much to do on a disappointing day in the South West.
Both Miller and Grainger sent long throws into the home box in what was a good start from the visitors but they had three difficult corners to deal with at the other end as Plymouth also looked to get forward. Miller cleared the first and Proctor dealt with the other two.
The home side were awarded a free kick 24-yards out, in a patchy start to the game, and Gillespie did well to palm it down then gather it as it bent over the wall and flew at his top corner.
Good work from Adams on the left flank earned Carlisle a corner and a half clearance from that dropped for Jones to volley. He caught it on the full and a ricochet left Proctor with an easy tap-in, but the flag was raised for offside.
A much tighter and more contentious decision went the way of the home side when Adams curled a lovely cross at the penalty spot. Lambe connected with a firm header but his celebrations were cut short by another raised flag. The visiting dugout found it difficult to agree with the decision.
The game came to life and Taylor lobbed a header over Gillespie as Plymouth sent men forward. It bounced back off the bar and Brisley hooked it away to safety. Carlisle broke at pace with the loose ball and Lambe was a whisker away from finishing off yet another good delivery from the precise Nicky Adams.
Carlisle caused their own downfall on 21 minutes when a wayward pass from Joyce was picked up by Taylor. He fed it through to Carey and the nippy forward left Gillespie with no chance as he swept the ball into the bottom corner.
The Cumbrians looked for an early response and Miller did well to keep the ball alive tight by the touchline. He somehow got it under control and Brisley was there to get on the end of his cross. McCormick stayed big and gathered it into his grasp.
Carey almost doubled his tally for the day when he crunched an excellent free kick at the top corner with the action flowing from end to end. Gillespie got across sharply to tip it over the bar.
United should have done better when a poor clearance gave Adams an opening to cross. He didn't disappoint but the forwards were on their heels and the chance went begging.
Disaster struck for United on the stroke of half time when Brisley was judged to have climbed on Taylor as a cross came into the area. The referee pointed at the spot and former-Carlisle loanee Jake Jervis did the rest as he thumped the penalty into the back of the net.
Carlisle started the second half with two huge appeals for handball, both of which were waved away by the disinterested officials. And the visitors were made to feel even worse when substitute Jabo Ibehre beat McCormick to a high ball. He smashed the loose ball into the roof of the net but he was then booked for handling it during the tussle.
A nod down from a Devitt cross by Ibehre found Bailey in space and he took a touch before letting one fly. The keeper was beaten but it whipped just the wrong side of the post. United kept going and Devitt scuffed a volley into bodies when it dropped high out of the sky on the 18-yard line.
The ever-dangerous Nicky Adams showed excellent control to trap a high clearance before beating his man and crossing the ball as United pressed to get back in the game. The quality of the moment deserved better but the supporting strikers couldn't quite get on the end of the ball.
Jervis grazed the bar with a stunning shot as the pace of the game slowed through the closing stages and Ibehre wasn't too far away at the other end as he side-footed an Adams cross at the target.
Another chance created by Adams went begging as a low delivery skipped through Ibehre's legs to be cleared by Kennedy, and Miller was wayward with a follow up volley as he came under pressure.
Half chances were exchanged in a tight closing ten minutes but Plymouth held their shape and kept the visiting attacks at arm's length to claim the points.
Plymouth Argyle - Carey (21), Jervis (45 pen)
Plymouth Argyle - Spencer (74)
Carlisle United - Ibehre (48), Brisley (76), Proctor (83)
Plymouth Argyle - McCormick, Sawyer, Sarcevic, Carey, Jervis (Donaldson 86), Bradley, Kennedy, Therlkeld, Taylor (Spencer 69), Fox, Sokolik (Songo'o 46). Subs - Dorel, Slew, Blissett, Tanner.
Carlisle United - Gillespie, T Miller, Brisley, Liddle, Grainger, Lambe (Ibehre 46), Joyce (Devitt 31), Jones, Bailey (O'Sullivan 74), Adams, Proctor. Subs - Crocombe, Gillesphey, Waring, McQueen.
Referee - Mr Mark Heywood
Attendance - 10,381 (326 away fans)