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Thursday, October 27, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Cardinals 10, Rangers 9

By Richard Durrett


ST. LOUIS -- Wow. In an incredible game full of lead changes and back-and-forth action (it's easy to forget about the spotty defense thanks to the last few innings, isn't it?), the Cardinals pulled out an amazing 10-9 victory in 11 innings to extend the World Series to a seventh game. David Freese hit the winning home run in the bottom of the 11th after the Rangers could taste the title.

What it means: The Rangers were one strike away twice and couldn't finish the deal in Thursday's Game 6. They had five different leads and couldn't hold them. So we'll play a Game 7 on Friday. Amazing.

Freese warms up crowd: The St. Louis fans went crazy when Freese's home run went onto the grassy hill in center field. It came off reliever Mark Lowe as the Rangers were going through bullpen pitchers in an effort to keep the game going at that point.

One strike away (in ninth): The Rangers were one strike away from the championship when Freese hit a 1-2 pitch to the wall in right. Nelson Cruz appeared to have a play on it (some of the Rangers players thought he was going to catch it), but was not able to get there. Two runs scored to turn a 7-5 score into a tie game. It was a blown save for Neftali Feliz.

One strike away again (in 10th): Darren Oliver came in for the 10th after the Rangers took a 9-7 lead and gave up consecutive singles and then a sac bunt by pinch-hitter Kyle Lohse to put runners at second and third. Scott Feldman came in to face right-handed hitter Ryan Theriot. Feldman got him to ground out as a run scored. Albert Pujols was intentionally walked (despite being the winning run) to bring Lance Berkman to the plate. Berkman delivered on a 2-2 pitch with a single to center to score two runs and tie the game again. It was the fifth time the Cardinals tied the game.

Errors and more errors: Mistakes in the field cost both teams. Matt Holliday had what appeared to be an easy fly ball from Cruz in shallow left as shortstop Rafael Furcal backtracked as well. But there was some sort of miscommunication and the ball went off Holliday's glove. That put Cruz at second with no outs in the fourth. He scored on an RBI single by Mike Napoli.

In the bottom of the inning, Michael Young was given an error on what should have been an easy ground-ball out and flip to the pitcher to retire Berkman. Yadier Molina's groundout to third scored Berkman to tie the score.

But in the top of the fifth, Freese dropped a popup to third from Josh Hamilton. Freese was camped under it and it went off his glove. Young immediately made the Cardinals pay with a double to left-center field. That put the Rangers up 4-3.

Young had another error, bobbling a bouncer as he thought about throwing to second. That allowed Holliday to get on. The Cardinals ended up scoring yet again.

Hamilton homers: What a great time for Hamilton's first postseason home run. After the Cardinals had tied it in the bottom of the ninth, Hamilton hit the first pitch he saw from Jason Motte, a 98 mph fastball. It went into the seats in right-center to give the Rangers the lead right back.

Back-to-back jacks: With the score tied in the seventh, the Rangers' big bats came out. Adrian Beltre led off the inning with a home run to right-center estimated at 410 feet. Then Cruz followed with a 419-foot shot to the third deck in left field. That put Texas up 6-4. ESPN Stats & Information: The last back-to-back homers in the World Series were in Game 3 in 2008, by Phillies Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Cruz's postseason: Cruz has eight home runs and 16 RBIs. He's tied with Barry Bonds (2002) and Carlos Beltran (2004) for the most homers in a single postseason.

Lewis solid: As usual in the postseason, Colby Lewis did the job. He went 5 1/3 innings and gave up four runs (two earned) with three walks and four strikeouts. The numbers are misleading, though. Poor defense at times behind Lewis hurt his cause. But he was solid and gave his team a chance to win. And he was better than his counterpart.

Early run, wasted chance: The Rangers started the game with an Ian Kinsler walk, an Elvis Andrus single (to put runners on the corners) and a Hamilton RBI single. But with a 1-0 lead, runners on the corners and no outs, the Rangers didn't plate any more runs. Young and Beltre struck out and Cruz grounded weakly to third to end the inning. As poorly as starter Jaime Garcia pitched, he was able to get out of the inning allowing just one run.

First-inning blast: Moments after Lewis retired Pujols on a first-pitch fly ball to right, switch-hitter Berkman hit the first pitch he saw for an opposite-field homer. Berkman was 2-for-15 with six strikeouts in his career against Lewis before hitting that home run.

Short start: Garcia lasted just three innings. He was having trouble finding the strike zone, dealt with runners in every inning and threw 59 pitches with just 35 of them strikes.

Year of the Napoli: The Rangers' catcher got his 10th RBI of this World Series with the single that hit the chalk. Only two players in World Series history have more RBIs in a single Series than Napoli: Bobby Richardson (12 in 1960) and Mickey Mantle (11 in 1960). Napoli also had yet another big play on the bases as he picked off Holliday at third base with the bases loaded in the sixth.

Beltre's block: Napoli made a terrific throw to pick off Holliday at third base with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth in a tie game. But give a huge assist to Beltre, who blocked third base with his right foot and then applied the tag.