ST. LOUIS (AP) – The Texas Rangers used some aggressive baserunning to score two runs in the ninth inning, rallying for a 2-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday and squaring the World Series at 1-1.
Josh Hamilton and Michael Young hit sacrifice flies in the ninth, scoring Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus, who had both used some daring moves to swipe bases and advance around to third.
“It wasn’t a Series-saving rally, but it was huge,” said Kinsler.
Those runs came after a strange sense of deja vu in the seventh when Cardinals pinch-hitter Allen Craig greeted Texas reliever Alexi Ogando with a go-ahead single — exactly the same scenario as Game 1.
The Rangers, however, were able to recover this time, Now, after a travel day, Texas will host Game 3 on Saturday with Matt Harrison as starter against Kyle Lohse.
“It was almost a great story for us, turned out to be a greater one for them,” St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said.
Texas has not lost two straight games since Aug. 23-25. They waited a while to save themselves on this night.
Trailing 1-0, Kinsler opened the ninth with a single against closer Jason Motte that fell neatly between three onrushing fielders. With Andrus at the plate and shaping to bunt, Kinsler stole second, sliding in just ahead of catcher Yadier Molina’s excellent throw.
Andrus followed with a single to center, sending Kinsler to third. And when the relay throw got away for a moment, Andrus took the chance and scampered to second. That put two runners in scoring position with no outs.
La Russa, who’s been making all the right moves this October, made a contentious decision to hook Motte and bring in left-hander Arthur Rhodes to face Texas’ Josh Hamilton. But the slumping slugger, slowed throughout the postseason by a groin injury, hit a solid fly ball that scored Kinsler to tie the game and moved Andrus to third.
La Russa went to his bullpen again, bringing in Lance Lynn to face Young. The steady Texas veteran did his job, lofting a fly ball deep enough to give Andrus ample time to run home and put the Rangers ahead.
In the bottom of the ninth, Texas closer Neftali Feliz worked around a leadoff walk to close out the game and square the Series.
“It would have been hard,” Hamilton said of possibly facing being 0-2. “We would have been comfortable going back to our place, having three games. They’re just like we are, never say die, til the last out is made. It makes it fun.”
The Cardinals had gone ahead in the seventh when David Freese singled with one out and moved to third on Nick Punto’s two-out single. La Russa pulled starting pitcher Jaime Garcia and put up Craig, who was injured for most of the season but drove in the winning run in St. Louis 3-2 victory in Game 1.
Just as he did in Game 1, Rangers manager Ron Washington responded by bringing in Ogando. After a first-pitch foul, Craig lined a fastball over the second baseman for the go-ahead run.
Earlier, the acrobatic Andrus made a sensational play in the fifth to keep the game scoreless.
After a two-out single then a walk, Rafael Furcal slapped a hard grounder up the middle. Andrus dived to his left to stop it on the edge of the outfield grass, got to his knees and flipped the ball with his glove about 25 feet to second baseman Kinsler, who barely beat Garcia to the bag for a forceout.
Starting pitchers Garcia and Texas’ Colby Lewis dominated at the outset, and no one got a hit until Furcal doubled with two outs in the St. Louis third.
Perhaps both sides could have used some hitting tips from former Cardinals great Stan Musial. A month shy of his 91st birthday, Stan the Man was on hand to watch the game.