Mitch Moreland

2011 World Series

Adrian Beltre admires his game-tying homerun on one knee in the sixth inning. Two innings later, Mike Napoli broke the 2-2 tie with a bases-loaded double as Texas beat St. Louis, 4-2. The Rangers are now one win away from winning their first-ever World Series championship.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

ARLINGTON — Mike Napoli hit a tiebreaking two-run double in the eighth inning against Marc Rzepczynski, and the Texas Rangers rallied from a two-run deficit to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-2 on Monday night and take a 3-2 World Series lead.

Solo home runs by Mitch Moreland in the third and Adrian Beltre in the sixth off Chris Carpenter sparked the Texas comeback. Michael Young doubled off loser Octavio Dotel leading off the eighth.

Darren Oliver got the win in relief of C.J. Wilson, and Neftali Feliz finished for his sixth save of the postseason, striking out Albert Pujols as part of a double play when Allen Craig was caught stealing second.

Colby Lewis starts Game 6 for the Rangers on Wednesday in St. Louis, trying to wrap up their first title. Jaime Garcia starts for the Cardinals.

After Young’s double, Beltre struck out and Nelson Cruz was intentionally walked.

Dotel relieved Rzepczynski and David Murphy reached on an infield single to load the bases and Napoli doubled to deep right field, making it 4-2.

Pujols drew three intentional walks, including a pass with two outs and none on in the seventh. The St. Louis slugger then nearly used his legs to put his team ahead.

Pujols was running hard on a 3-2 pitch that Matt Holliday hit for a single to left-center. Pujols chugged around the bags and third base coach Jose Oquendo initially waved him home, only to put up a late stop sign.

Would Pujols have been safe on shortstop Elvis Andrus’ wide throw to the plate? Maybe. But it became moot when Lance Berkman was intentionally walked to load the bases and David Freese flied out against Alexi Ogando.

Beltre and Moreland hit solo home runs off Carpenter, helping Texas come back from an early 2-0 deficit.

Beltre made it 2-all with two outs in the sixth, dropping to one knee after following through on a meaty cut. He connected on a big curve from Carpenter, who had easily handled Josh Hamilton and Young to start the inning.

Beltre’s other homers this October came in a bunch. He hit three in a first-round playoff game at Tampa Bay.

Napoli almost gave Texas a cushion later in the inning. With the crowd standing and chanting his name as “Nap-Oh-Lee” flashed on the scoreboard, the catcher’s bid for a three-run homer was caught on the warning track in right-center field, just shy of the 407-foot mark.

The homer let Wilson avoid becoming the first pitcher to lose four times in a single postseason. The eccentric lefty who alternates red and blue gloves between starts had another uneven outing, working around five walks.

Wilson walked six while losing Game 1 to Carpenter and the Cardinals.

Moreland atoned for some glove woes with a home run in the third, hitting a drive halfway up the second deck in right field.

The Cardinals scored twice in the second, cashing in two leadoff walks sandwiched around a wild pitch.

Yadier Molina notched his fifth RBI of the Series with a single that left fielder David Murphy overran and fumbled for an error. Skip Schumaker followed with an RBI grounder to first that Moreland boxed around, preventing any chance at a double play.

Murphy made a diving catch to end the inning, denying Nick Punto a run-scoring hit. Punto carried his bat all the way to first base and tried to break the wood by bending it over his right thigh.

Already ahead 2-0, the Cards threatened in the third after Wilson slipped coming off the mound trying to field Rafael Furcal’s leadoff bunt and made a poor, backhanded flip that skittered past Moreland. But with runners at the corners, Wilson got Holliday to bounce into a quick double play. Not so surprising, really — Wilson induced the most DP grounders in the majors this year while St. Louis hit into an NL-record 169 double plays.

Holliday flied out with the bases loaded, after an intentional walk to Pujols, to finish the fifth.

Printed on Tuesday, October 25, 2011 as: Rangers take 3-2 World Series lead

Even though both teams had to get by last seasons’ league pennant winners, the Texas Rangers and the San Francisco Giants are set to face each other in the 2010 World Series.
Although probably no one outside of Arlington or the Bay Area expected it — the two squads haven’t won a World Series in the modern era.

For the Rangers, this isn’t just their first World Series appearance, they hadn’t even won a postseason series until this month. Now that they have two series wins under their belt, the former Washington Senators franchise is on a roll and have built a rabid fan base of Texans that are filling Nolan Ryan’s house with unwavering support.

The Giants, on the other hand, haven’t won a World Series since they made the move to San Francisco from New York in 1958.

In July, the National League won their first All-Star game in more than a decade, giving the Giants home-field advantage in the series. Here are some other factors that will determine the winner of the 106th World Series:

The Rangers will win if...

• Cliff Lee can remain perfect in the postseason

Lee is 7-0 with a 1.26 ERA in eight career postseason starts, including 3-0 this year with the Rangers. In just two postseasons, Lee already holds numerous playoff pitching records, including having 30 strikeouts between walks at one point and having five 10-strikeout games in the postseason, a record he shares with Randy Johnson. In all likelihood, the latter record will be shattered by Lee in the near future. He will try to keep the Giants hitters off balance with his Greg Maddux-like fastball location, consistent curve ball and deceptive cutter. He will be working on full rest for Game 1.

• Mitch Moreland can stay on his ALCS tear at the plate

Moreland, who is filling in at first base for Jorge Cantu, hit .389 in the ALCS while scoring three runs and driving in three more. If Moreland can continue to bat like this to complement Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Jr., Vladimir Guerrero, Michael Young and Elvis Andrus, Ron Washington’s Rangers will be in a good spot offensively.

• Josh Hamilton can continue to leave the ballpark

If anyone is going to hit any balls into AT&T Park McCovey Cove (over right field fence and concourse), it’s going to be Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton, who knocked four home runs off of Yankee pitchers in the ALCS and hit .350. Hamilton anchors the Texas lineup and hopes to have just one more ginger ale celebration this season.

The Giants will win if...

• Cody Ross can keep playing like a Triple Crown champion

Ross is hitting .324 this postseason and has hit four home runs in 10 playoff games, including three against the Phillies in the NLCS. He has gone 11-34 with eight RBI and six runs against the likes of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels and Tim Hudson. If he can keep holding down the bottom of the San Francisco lineup and Aubrey Huff, Buster Posey and Pat Burrell continue to produce in the heart of the order, the Giants may be able to score enough runs against Lee, Colby Lewis, Tommy Hunter and C.J. Wilson.

• The city of San Francisco can avert a natural disaster from happening

From the heavy floods of the 1962 World Series to the earthquake of 1989, the Giants have experienced a myriad of troubles with weather and seemingly fateful disasters. Not to mention, Dusty Baker’s son Darren almost got trampled at home plate as a bat boy in 2002 before being taken out of harm’s way by Giants runner J.T. Snow.

• The bullpen can hold up in close games

The Giants have become masters of one-run games, as displayed three times against the Braves and again versus the Phillies. The core relieving crew of Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo, Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez and closer Brian Wilson will have to hold firm against the potent Texas offense, which is sure to test Wilson and crew, especially in late innings in the games in Arlington. With starters as good as Tim Lincecum, Jonathan Sanchez and Matt Cain, the Giants need only to score a few runs each game to have a chance to win, but the bullpen must remain solid and avoid walks.

Prediction: Giants in 7