Allen Craig

2011 World Series

Texas Rangers' Ian Kinsler is congratulated in the dugout after scoring during Game 2 of the World Series on Thursday (Photo Courtesy of Charlie Riedel)

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

ST. LOUIS — Josh Hamilton and the Texas hitters looked lost. They chased pitches that bounced, broke their bats and seemed totally overmatched.

Hamilton, the reigning AL MVP seemed to be wearing down with every swing in his first three at-bats.

Hamilton shattered his bat the first time up and slowly jogged to first base. Later, he weakly waved and appeared overmatched as he struck out on three pitches. That left him with an 0-for-16 Series slump dating to last October.

Hamilton’s teammates were equally feeble. Maybe it was because none of the Texas starters had ever faced Garcia, maybe it was carryover from the stress that began in last year’s World Series wipeout against San Francisco.

Until the ninth inning, that is.

Their hardest hit early in the game came in the fourth — rather, it was the hardest a Texas player got hit.

Kinsler was at third base when Adrian Beltre sent a solid, one-hopper down the line. The foul ball nailed a ducking

Kinsler in the right shoulder, and he grinned while playfully rubbing it off. No smiling, though, when Beltre took a poor cut at a low pitch and struck out to strand runners at the corners.

Down to their last three outs, and in danger of dropping into a serious World Series deficit, the Rangers rallied against St. Louis’ vaunted bullpen.

Hamilton and Michael Young lifted sacrifice flies in the ninth and Texas startled the Cardinals 2-1 on Thursday night to even the Series at 1-all.

For the second straight night, Cardinals pinch-hitter Allen Craig greeted reliever Alexi Ogando with a go-ahead single.

This time, Craig did it the seventh. In Game 1, his hit in the sixth sent the Cards to a 3-2 win.

The Rangers, however, were not done quite yet. Now, after a travel day, they will host Game 3 on Saturday night. Matt Harrison is set to start for the Rangers against Kyle Lohse.

“It would have been hard,” Hamilton said of possibly facing being 0-2. “We would have been comfortable going back to our place, having three games. They’re just like we are, never say die, until the last out is made. It makes it fun.”

Texas has not lost two straight games since Aug. 23-25. They sure waited a while to save themselves on this night that began as a duel between starters Colby Lewis and the Cardinals’ Jaime Garcia.

Ian Kinsler opened the ninth with a bloop single against closer Jason Motte. Next up was Elvis Andrus, whose tremendous play at shortstop kept the game scoreless much earlier. He singled to center, sending Kinsler to third, and when the relay throw got away for a moment, Andrus scampered to second.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, who’s been making all the right moves this October, brought in lefty Arthur Rhodes to face Hamilton. But the slumping slugger, slowed throughout the postseason by a groin injury, hit a solid fly ball that scored Kinsler and moved Andrus to third.

La Russa went to his bullpen again, bringing in Lance Lynn to face Young. The steady Texas veteran did his job, lofting a fly ball that sent Andrus scampering home.

Then it was Rangers manager Ron Washington’s turn. He signaled for closer Neftali Feliz, who worked around a leadoff walk to earn the save. Mike Adams got the win.

Garcia and Lewis dominated at the outset, and no one got a hit until Furcal doubled with two outs in the St. Louis third.

Before that, the closest anyone came was Jon Jay, whose bunt danced along the third base line chalk before trickling foul.

Perhaps both sides could have used some hitting tips from Stan Musial. A month shy of his 91st birthday, Stan the Man was sitting in a Busch suite. The Cardinals Hall of Famer was shown on the video board and drew a big cheer.
 

2011 World Series

Texas Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz canÂ’t come up with a hit by St. Louis CardinalsÂ’ outfielder Allen Craig during the sixth inning of Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday in St. Louis.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

ST. LOUIS — Nelson Cruz sprinted over to the foul line, desperately trying to run down Allen Craig’s tailing liner. The right fielder came up just short, and so did the Texas Rangers.

Craig’s pinch-hit drive landed an inch or two in front of Cruz’s outstretched glove for a go-ahead single off reliever Alexi Ogando in the sixth inning that carried the St. Louis Cardinals over the Rangers 3-2 Wednesday in a chilly World Series opener.

On a night when all the runs were driven in with opposite-field hits to right, Lance Berkman put St. Louis ahead with a two-run single in the fourth against C.J. Wilson.

Rangers catcher Mike Napoli watched in dejection as Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday scored, but a few minutes later celebrated in the top of the fifth when he tied it 2-all with a two-run homer off Chris Carpenter.

While the Rangers’ bullpen couldn’t hold on, five St. Louis relievers combined for three innings of one-hit relief. Not that Texas didn’t have its chances — the Rangers were 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position.

Colby Lewis starts for the Rangers on Thursday night, trying to send the Series back to Texas tied at a game apiece.
Game 1 has been an indicator of success in recent decades: The winner has captured seven of the last eight titles, 12 of the last 14 and 19 of the last 23. In addition, the team hosting Game 1 has won 20 of the last 25 World Series.

A year after making their first World Series appearance, a five-game loss to the San Francisco Giants that opened with an 11-7 loss, the Rangers were back.

Taking over as ace after Cliff Lee left to sign with Philadelphia, Wilson dropped to 0-3 with a 7.17 ERA in four postseason starts this year, allowing three runs and four hits in 5 2-3 innings with a career-high six walks — two of them intentional.

He prepared for the start by getting in a tank of liquid nitrogen at 295 degrees below zero — the treatment is said to aid recovery — but on a blustery, 49-degree night his walks and a key wild pitch got him into some hot spots.

He fell behind after bouncing a pitch in the fourth that hit three-time NL MVP Albert Pujols on the left foot. That started a streak of three bad pitches in a four-pitch span.

Wilson tried to go inside on Matt Holliday but left the next one over the plate, and Holliday hit an opposite-field double into the right-field corner as Pujols took third.

Then, with the count 1-0 to Berkman, Wilson tried to go inside again but allowed the ball to drift over the plate.

Berkman went the other way and chopped the ball over first base and into right field as the Cardinals took a 2-0 lead. Wilson shook his head back and fourth as he walked back to the mound.

The lead was short-lived.

Adrian Beltre singled leading off the fifth and, one out later, Napoli turned on a high pitch and sent it about 10 rows deep into the right-field seats for his second home run of the postseason. A fired-up Carpenter had escaped a two-on, none-out jam in the second inning when Napoli hit into an inning-ending double play.

Pujols had Cardinals fans cheering in the top of the sixth when he slid to stop Michael Young’s grounder behind first and threw to Carpenter for the out, stranding Ian Kinsler at third.

Then in the bottom half, NLCS MVP David Freese hit an opposite-field double to right with one out and went to third on a wild pitch. Wilson struck out Yadier Molina, then pitched carefully to Nick Punto and walked him on four pitches.

Ogando relieved, and with many of the red-clad Cardinals fans standing and waving white towels, Craig sliced a 1-2 pitch down the right field line. Cruz, the ALCS MVP, came oh-so-close to making the sliding catch, but the ball bounced just in front of his glove as Freese scored. Texas was lucky that the ball struck Cruz on a foot; otherwise, it could have rolled to the fence.

Carpenter became the first St. Louis starter to reach the sixth inning since the division series. He got the win, allowing two runs and five hits in six innings with four strikeouts and one walk. Fernando Salas, Marc Rzepczynski, Octavio Dotel, Arthur Rhodes and Jason Motte followed, with Motte getting three outs for his fifth postseason save.

With one out in the ninth, Beltre was called out on a grounder to third on a ball that appeared to bounce off his foot and could have been ruled foul. The call didn’t go the Rangers’ way.

It was that kind of night.

ST. LOUIS— Randy Wolf outfoxed the St. Louis Cardinals for seven innings to earn his first postseason win at age 35 and the Milwaukee Brewers got two more hits from Ryan Braun in a 4-2 victory Thursday night that evened the NL championship series at 2-all.

Matt Holliday and Allen Craig homered for the Cardinals, representing their only runs in the last 16 innings.

Francisco Rodriguez allowed a hit in the eighth and John Axford finished for his second save of the series and third this postseason.

The Brewers ended an eight-game road losing streak in the postseason dating to the 1982 World Series opener at St. Louis.

Jaime Garcia faces Zack Greinke for the second time in the series in Game 5 Friday night. Either way, the NLCS will be decided back at Miller Park.

Jerry Hairston Jr. doubled twice with an RBI and Wolf hit one of the Brewers’ five doubles. Braun is batting .471 (16 for 34) in the postseason with two homers and nine RBIs.

The Cardinals needed more heavy duty from their bullpen, too, after Kyle Lohse, pitching on 12 days’ rest, failed to make it out of the fifth.

Albert Pujols was a quiet 1 for 4 for St. Louis, which was 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position and is 0 for 15 after the first inning of Game 3.

Wolf kept the Cardinals off-balance with soft tosses and retired 13 of his last 15 hitters in his fourth career postseason start. It was a huge improvement from Game 4 of the NL division series at Arizona in which he surrendered seven runs in three innings.

Wolf also struggled in his last two regular season starts, allowing 10 runs in 11 2-3 innings.

For the fourth straight game, the Cardinals had to lean heavily on their relievers. Lohse sailed through three innings and then allowed three doubles and three runs to his last eight hitters, and was charged with three runs in 4 1-3 innings.

St. Louis relievers have worked 17 1-3 innings in the series.

Two of Cardinals manager Tony La Russa’s moves paid off. Bumped down one spot to fifth, Holliday hit his first postseason homer and doubled.

Craig started in place of Lance Berkman, who was 3 for 32 lifetime against Wolf and had a minor right thigh bruise from getting hit by a pitch in Game 3. Craig hit his first career postseason homer made it 2-0 in the third.

The Brewers tied it in the fourth with their first runs since the third inning of Game 3 on doubles by Prince Fielder and Jerry Hairston Jr. and an RBI single by Yuniesky Betancourt.

Lohse was pulled after Nyjer Morgan doubled to start the fifth and advanced on a groundout, the heart of the order coming up. Braun’s single off Mitchell Boggs put the Brewers in front although second baseman Ryan Theriot’s sprawling stop transformed Fielder’s smash into an inning-ending double play.

Rickie Weeks singled and Hairston doubled again to open the sixth, and the Brewers soon had a two-run cushion. George Kottaras hit a grounder against a drawn-in infield off Arthur Rhodes, and Theriot bobbled the ball on a short hop for an error.

The Cardinals’ streak of scoring in the first inning ended at five games when they went down in order against Wolf, but they hurt the left-hander with opposite-field power the next two innings. Wolf fell behind the count to six of the first 14 hitters and the Cardinals were 4 for 5 with two homers, a double, single and walk.