ST. LOUIS -- Texas Rangers starter C.J. Wilson didn't pitch his best in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday night, but the lefty did leave a 2-2 game having danced his way out of trouble at times and he received little help from his friends.
All that matters, however, is the 'L' beside his name. He continues to struggle with a high pitch count bolstered by six walks -- two intentional -- and he hit Albert Pujols on a ball in the dirt to start the fourth and trigger St. Louis' two-run inning.
Wilson threw 94 pitches, just 50 for strikes, in 5 2/3 innings. His final four tosses to Nick Punto were all balls, although Wilson purposefully stayed low and away with the hope of getting him to chase. He allowed just four hits, two in the fourth when Lance Berkman's grounder skidded by first baseman Michael Young and down the right-field line. And Wilson left a runner on third in the sixth inning for Alexi Ogando, who finally faltered and couldn't keep the score tied.
"I felt like I was throwing the ball pretty well," Wilson said. "You give up a ground ball right there [to Berkman] that scores two runs, that's kind of unfortunate. Other than that, I minimized the damage and pitched pretty strategically to the guys that I wanted to."
He got a double play in the first after a lead-off walk and and set up another from Matt Holliday with an intentional walk to Pujols in the fifth. Wilson didn't get a break when Pujols gobbled up Young's sixth-inning grounder down the line with Ian Kinsler on third, and he got an 0-for-11 night from his 2-3-4 hitters, plus a caught-stealing when Elvis Andrus failed to make contact on a hit-and-run.
Still, Wilson couldn't complete the sixth inning after getting two outs. David Freese had doubled with one out to the gap and took third on a wild pitch.
Facing Punto, a .143 hitter this postseason, Wilson could either attack him and go for the final out, or pitch around him knowing he could force pitcher Chris Carpenter out of the game with a pinch-hitter.
He pitched around Punto, who wouldn't bite on two curveballs and walked on four pitches. Carpenter was then pulled for Allen Craig and Wilson's night was also done.
"The plan was not to give in," Wilson said. "I knew that they have either Carpenter coming up or a pinch-hitter and with Ogando warming up behind me I have confidence that he's going to come in and get that guy out if I get pulled."
Craig, though, tagged Ogando's two-strike fastball to ensure a fourth consecutive win in a Carpenter start.
The Rangers, conversely, are now 2-6 in Wilson's eight career postseason starts and winless in his last seven. He is 0-3 this postseason with a 7.17 ERA.
"Yep, he may have walked some guys and he hit Albert, but he was in a 2-2 ballgame and was battling Carpenter," Washington said. "As far as I'm concerned, it was a pretty good ballgame, and C.J. did his job."
The free-agent-to-be likely will have one more shot to save his postseason in a Game 5. He can only hope he won't be having to save the World Series, too.