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Saturday, October 22, 2011
Unsung hero: Lance Lynn stops leak

By Jeff Caplan

ARLINGTON, Texas -- If you don't think a reliever who gave up a single and a run-scoring sacrifice fly and walked consecutive batters to load the bases within the first six batters he faced can't be a hero of any sort in a World Series game, you didn't see Game 3.

St. Louis Cardinals reliever Lance Lynn is the unsung hero of the Cardinals' wild 16-7 victory for a 2-1 series lead. First of all, the right-hander allowed just one run in 2 1/3 innings. In this game, enough said.

After his shaky start in relief of reliever Fernando Salas's shaky start to the fifth inning, Lynn shut off the faucet and set the Rangers down. He did a nice job to get Mike Napoli to hit a run-scoring sacrifice fly to right that cut Texas' deficit to 8-6.

Then came a four-pitch walk to David Murphy followed by a seven-pitch walk to nine-hole hitter Yorvit Torrealba to juice the bases. The 51,462 fans were on their feet as 30-30 man Ian Kinsler sauntered to the plate. Would quick-trigger Tony La Russa yank him?

No.

Lynn quickly got a ahead of Kinsler, who fouled off an 80 mph curveball and then a 92 mph cutter. Successive fastballs then missed to take the count to 2-2, and the tension mounted.

Lynn fired in another fastball and Kinsler popped it up for shortstop Rafael Furcal to squeeze. Kinsler was the ninth batter in a big inning, but not big enough.

"It was a ball," Kinsler said of the last pitch he saw. "That was a tough at-bat. It was up. It would have been nice to lay off of that one."

In the sixth, the Cardinals re-opened a five-run lead on Albert Pujols' massive three-run homer off Alexi Ogando that banged off the facing of the club level in left field.

Lynn returned for the bottom half of the inning and although the Rangers trailed 11-6, no one in their right mind could assume this one was over. After all, Texas had just scored six runs and sent 17 batters to the plate in the fourth and fifth.

In the sixth, three batters came up and three sat down.

Elvis Andrus offered hope, starting the inning with a single. But ailing Josh Hamilton grounded into a 4-6-3 double play and Michael Young struck out swinging.

Shutdown inning accomplished for the first time by either side. Inning over. Game over. Lynn wins.