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Rangers 2, Cardinals 1

Rangers rally, tie Series

Cardinals closer Jason Motte got pulled by Tony LaRussa after putting the first two Texas batters on in the ninth inning. Cardinals closer Jason Motte got pulled by Tony LaRussa after putting the first two Texas batters on in the ninth inning. (Jeff Haynes/Reuters)
By Nick Cafardo
Globe Staff / October 21, 2011

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ST. LOUIS - Last postseason he played with broken ribs. This postseason he’s got a painful groin injury.

Josh Hamilton is one tough guy.

He managed to get enough of an Arthur Rhodes pitch in the ninth inning last night to hit a sacrifice fly to right field, erasing a 1-0 Cardinals lead. And the Rangers would eventually celebrate a stunning 2-1 victory that evened the World Series at a game apiece after the next batter, Michael Young, delivered a sacrifice fly to score the winning run before 47,288 shocked fans at Busch Stadium.

Hamilton tried to downplay the injury and wouldn’t reveal how much it affects his swing.

“Health-wise, it is what it is, I’m tired of talking about it,’’ he said. “I’m going to hurt until the season is over. You know, it’s a non-issue as far as talking about, so stop asking me, please.’’

When a reporter pressed, he said, “If I tell you, then the Cardinals might know how to pitch to me, so I’m not telling you.’’

Ian Kinsler ignited the rally with a bloop single to center to open the ninth off Cardinals closer Jason Motte. He then stole second base, beating a laser throw by catcher Yadier Molina.

“My hand barely got in there,’’ Kinsler said. “It took everything I had. Yadier made an unbelievable throw, quick and on the money, and I was just able to get my hand in there.’’

Elvis Andrus followed with a single, which sent Kinsler to third. Andrus alertly took second base when right fielder Skip Schumaker, who had just entered for Lance Berkman, threw home.

With Hamilton due up, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa took out his closer and brought in the lefty Rhodes. La Russa’s reasoning?

“From what I understand, Hamilton handles a fastball pretty well,’’ La Russa said. “And if [Kinsler] hadn’t taken second base, I probably would have left [Motte] in there. I thought the lefthander had a better chance. And he did good. He got an out. Hamilton just got in front of the ball and pulled it. That’s good hitting.’’

Did La Russa think about walking Hamilton to load the bases?

“No, not really,’’ he said. “You know, load the bases, that’s a really difficult thing to do. I don’t think walking him there would have made it easier on us. It would have made it tougher.’’

La Russa then opted for righty Lance Lynn to face Young, who lifted Lynn’s sixth pitch to center for the go-ahead run.

Neftali Feliz secured the save in the bottom of the ninth.

Prior to that, it looked as if Allen Craig was going to be the hero for the second straight night.

Texas starter Colby Lewis matched Cardinals counterpart Jaime Garcia zero for zero into the seventh. But then Lewis surrendered a one-out single to center to David Freese. After Molina flied to left field, Nick Punto stroked his second single of the game, sending Freese to third.

Craig, 27, hit .315 in 75 regular-season games, missing significant time with a fractured right kneecap. He went 7 for 22 (.333) as a pinch hitter.

Craig batted for Garcia and Rangers manager Ron Washington pulled Lewis for Alexi Ogando. Craig fouled off the first pitch and lined the second to right field, scoring Freese.

It was now up to the Cardinals bullpen to perform the same as it did in relief of Chris Carpenter in Game 1.

In the eighth inning, Fernando Salas struck out Mike Napoli, and lefty Marc Rzepczynski took care of pinch hitters Yorvit Torrealba (strikeout) and Esteban German (ground out to first).

The Cardinals almost added to their lead in the bottom of the eighth when Albert Pujols sent a long fly to right, but it was caught at the fence by Nelson Cruz. St. Louis then put two on with two outs, but Texas reliever Mike Adams got Daniel Descalso to ground to second.

That set the stage for Motte, the Cardinals’ quirky closer who saved Game 1. The results weren’t the same this time.

“I know that if we get the lead on Saturday he’ll be 100 percent ready to go,’’ La Russa said of Motte. “He caught a tough break, which is baseball. Kinsler hit a blooper off the end of the bat. What they did after that is to their credit. He just got victimized a little bit by the game of baseball. Next time they’ll hit a line drive right at somebody and we’ll get an out.’’

Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.

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