The St. Louis Cardinals took another step in their magic postseason ride by edging the Texas Rangers 3-2 in the opening game of the World Series Wednesday.
A pinch-hit single in the sixth inning by Allen Craig scored David Freese from third and five relievers yielded just one hit over the final three innings to preserve the Cardinals' win for starter Chris Carpenter.
Craig's shot down the rightfield line was off Rangers' imposing reliever Alexi Ogando, who had just entered the game in relief of starter C.J. Wilson. The Texas right-hander was 2-0 with a 0.87 earned run average in the postseason.
Cold weather game, sitting on the bench, World Series, Ogando, it's not a very good situation, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said about second-year player Craig.
But he's got a history in our system. That's why we like him so much. He's got a history of taking great at bats, especially runners in scoring position.
The win gave wild card St. Louis a positive start toward an unlikely 11th World Series crown, given that the Redbirds trailed Atlanta by 10 1/2 games with a month to go before a late surge put them into the postseason on the last day.
Texas manager Ron Washington refused to be second-guessed in calling for Ogando to replace Wilson.
He was my best pitcher I felt right there in that situation. he said. He can command all his pitches. In the end you have to give Craig credit. He beat him.
We certainly didn't lose tonight, we got beat. They had an opportunity to push a run across. The pinch hitter got it done, and ours didn't. Got to give them credit, they beat us.
St. Louis opened the scoring in the fourth when Lance Berkman lined a two-run single to right. Texas tied the score an inning later on a two-run homer deep into the rightfield stands by Mike Napoli.
I feel like we have to win the National League-style games if we're going to win this thing, and tonight was a National League-style game, 3-2, said Berkman.
Good pitching, good defense, timely hitting. And I don't think that we want to get into a gorilla-ball type series with these guys.
After two league championship series dominated by sluggers, pitching ruled Game One of the Fall Classic on a blustery night at Busch Stadium where temperatures dipped into the 40s.
Cardinals ace Carpenter got the win after yielding two runs on five hits over six innings. After they took the lead, the relievers slammed the door on Texas, who are keen to make amends for losing last year's World Series to San Francisco.
Reliever Jason Motte sealed the victory with a flawless ninth, the hard-throwing righthander enticing Nelson Cruz to fly to left for the final out.
The Rangers had several opportunities to break the game open but failed to come through with runners in scoring position.
Whenever you have an opportunity to win a game -- at home especially -- it's important that you go ahead and do that, said Berkman.
We put ourselves in a position to win, and if somehow you let them come back and win that game, psychologically it's tough.
Game Two is Thursday in St. Louis before the best-of-seven series shifts to suburban Dallas for Game Three Saturday.
Playing a team like Texas, you love to get off to a start like that, said Berkman. But we view it as just a victory.
You know, there's three more that we've got to grab, and this is obviously important because it puts us in a position to head that way.