Three outs from a commanding 2-0 lead. Three outs from making their manager, Tony LaRussa, look like a genius again. But, up 1-0 in the ninth inning, Cardinals closer Jason Motte couldn’t close. And the Rangers strung together a couple hits and a couple sacrifice flies to win 2-1 Thursday night.
“I didn’t do my job,” Motte said in the clubhouse after the game.
He allowed consecutive singles to open the ninth and then an Albert Pujols error advanced the runners into scoring position. LaRussa pulled his closer in favour of a lefty-lefty matchup with reliever Arthur Rhodes. But Josh Hamilton bested the veteran, hitting a game-tying sacrifice fly. Michael Young then lifted a ball to the outfield against Lance Lynn to give his team the lead.
“It was almost a great story for us,” LaRussa said. “Turned out to be a greater one for them.”
LaRussa had seemingly pressed all the right buttons for a second straight night. He sent pinch-hitter Allen Craig to the plate with runners on first and third to face Alexi Ogando in the seventh-inning of a 0-0 game. For the second night in a row, Craig hit a ball into right field to score the game’s first run. He is the first pinch-hitter in playoff history to hit two go-ahead RBIs.
But the Craig story couldn’t supersede the World Series theme thus far – pitching.
Colby Lewis allowed a single run before being pulled with one out remaining in the seventh inning. His counterpart, Jaime Garcia, pitched seven scoreless innings. But for the first time in over a series, the Cardinals’ bullpen failed to finish the job.
Just like that, the series shifted momentum. And now the series shifts to Texas for game three Saturday night. Matt Harrison takes the mound for the Rangers and faces the Cardinals’ Kyle Lohse.
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