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Game 6: Rangers lead 7-5 in 9th, 3 outs from title

Workers remove a tarp from the infield at Busch Stadium Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011, in St. Louis, after officials announced that Game 6 of baseball's World Series is postponed due to rain. Workers remove a tarp from the infield at Busch Stadium Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011, in St. Louis, after officials announced that Game 6 of baseball's World Series is postponed due to rain. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
By Mike Fitzpatrick
AP Sports Writer / October 27, 2011

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Mike Adams retires Rafael Furcal with the bases loaded to end the eighth. Leading 7-5, the Texas Rangers are three outs from their first World Series championship.

It's a mystery why manager Ron Washington didn't go to closer Neftali Feliz in the eighth, but he'll surely be on in the ninth to try to close it out.

St. Louis has the 2-3-4 hitters coming up: Ryan Theriot, Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman.

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Allen Craig homers off Derek Holland with one out in the eighth inning and St. Louis trims its deficit to 7-5.

That's the first run the Cardinals have managed off Holland, who pitched a gem to win Game 4. The young lefty was just lifted for Adams, with pinch-hitter Gerald Laird coming up. Laird was replaced by pinch-hitter Daniel Descalso, who reached on an infield single when shortstop Elvis Andrus made an ill-advised throw to first rather than going to second for the force.

Jon Jay followed with a single that loaded the bases.

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Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz hit consecutive home runs off Lance Lynn to start the seventh, giving Texas the lead. Ian Kinsler added an RBI single to make it 7-4.

Cruz's mammoth shot into the third deck in left field was his eighth homer of the postseason, tying the major league record held by Barry Bonds (2002) and Carlos Beltran (2004).

Holland stands to win in relief. He started and won Game 4 on Sunday, taking a two-hit shutout into the ninth inning for a 4-0 victory.

Holland scored on Kinsler's single in the seventh.

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A footnote on Beltre's shot: It was 25 years ago tonight that the New York Mets won the 1986 World Series. That night, in Game 7 against Boston, another third baseman (Ray Knight) hit a leadoff homer in the seventh inning to snap a tie.

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After a costly error by first baseman Michael Young, Rangers reliever Alexi Ogando walked Yadier Molina with the bases loaded in the sixth inning, tying the score at 4.

Another great play by Texas catcher Mike Napoli helped to keep it tied. Napoli picked off Matt Holliday at third base for the second out. Beltre did a great job of blocking the bag with his foot, and Holliday hurt his pinkie on a headfirst dive trying to get back.

Holliday, who had a rough night all around, left the game with a severely bruised pinkie. X-rays were negative.

The teams have combined for five errors.

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Rangers manager Ron Washington showed a lot of faith in starter Colby Lewis before finally pulling him in the sixth with the bases loaded and one out.

Lewis had allowed only one ball out of the infield since Lance Berkman's two-run homer in the first inning.

Holland, who threw 116 pitches Sunday night, retired Jon Jay on a grounder back to the mound with the bases loaded to end the inning.

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Albert Pujols didn't like the call on strike three to start the sixth, but it appeared he was fortunate not to get punched out on the previous pitch.

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Boy, the Cardinals are really making a mess for themselves on defense. Not sure if they're tight, cold, rusty or what.

Third baseman David Freese dropped Josh Hamilton's leadoff popup in the fifth for St. Louis' third error -- and that doesn't include a foul ball that Freese had a chance to catch earlier in the game.

Young followed with an RBI double to give Texas a 4-3 lead.

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Interesting little chess match there in the top of the fifth after Young's RBI double. Two outs later, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa intentionally walked the No. 7 hitter, Napoli, who has 10 RBIs in the World Series. That put runners at the corners for pinch-hitter David Murphy -- with pitcher Colby Lewis on deck.

Washington put Yorvit Torrealba in the on-deck circle, and Holland began warming up hastily in the bullpen. La Russa, however, wasn't fooled by the decoys. Fernando Salas pitched around Murphy, loading the bases with an unintentional intentional walk. Forced to make a decision, Washington stayed with Lewis, who struck out to end the inning.

Lewis worked a 1-2-3 fifth. Lynn is on for St. Louis, and he worked a scoreless sixth.

The Rangers still lead 4-3.

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Napoli's run-scoring single just inside the right field line gave Texas a 3-2 lead in the fourth inning.

St. Louis handed the Rangers a leadoff baserunner when Furcal and Holliday botched Nelson Cruz's popup in shallow left. Neither took charge, and the ball popped out of Holliday's glove when he reached out at the last moment. It was probably Holliday's ball. He was charged with an error that allowed Cruz to reach second. Cruz scored on Napoli's single.

It was Napoli's 10th RBI of the World Series.

Moments later, Napoli twisted his left ankle when he went into second awkwardly. He got caught in between sliding and going in standing up. Napoli, who appears on his way to Series MVP honors if Texas wins, was writhing in pain at first but walked it off and stayed in the game.

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Holliday with a late, high, hard takeout slide on Andrus in the fourth to prevent a double play. Probably could have been called an automatic DP -- it was borderline at best.

Not necessarily dirty. But not necessarily legal, either.

That helped the Cardinals tie it at 3 on Yadier Molina's RBI groundout. Lewis avoided further damage.

An error by first baseman Michael Young got the inning started for St. Louis. Holliday then drew a walk, putting runners at first and second.

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Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia has been pulled after three innings. Fernando Salas on in relief as manager Tony La Russa once again puts the game -- and the season -- in the hands of his bullpen.

Garcia left with the score tied at 2, but he was missing the command that made him so effective in Game 2. He was helped by two double plays and a couple of wide strike calls from plate umpire Gary Cederstrom. Texas squandered a great chance to build a comfortable lead in the first inning.

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Plenty of Rangers fans at Busch Stadium, hoping to see their team win its first World Series crown. A little surprising, considering how much St. Louis loves its Cardinals.

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That early lead didn't last long for Texas.

Berkman hit a two-run homer to left-center off Lewis in the bottom of the first inning, putting the Cardinals ahead 2-1. Lewis gave up an AL-high 35 homers during the regular season.

Kinsler hit an RBI double in the second to tie it 2-all. Fox announcer Joe Buck says that was the Rangers' first hit in the World Series with runners in scoring position and two outs.

Texas is trying to win its first World Series crown. St. Louis hopes to force the first decisive Game 7 in the Series since 2002.

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Berkman, batting cleanup, connected on the first pitch. Just before that, Albert Pujols also went after the first pitch from Lewis but flied out to right.

Skip Schumaker scored on Berkman's homer after reaching on a one-out single. Schumaker started in center field for the second straight game in place of slumping Jon Jay, who is 0 for 14 in the World Series.

Schumaker can be an offensive spark, and that's why he's in the No. 2 hole in the lineup. St. Louis needs to get some guys on in front of Pujols, Berkman and Holliday so the Rangers are forced to pitch to them -- Pujols in particular.

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Garcia has walked the leadoff batter in each of the first two innings -- not the way you want to attack this Texas lineup. But he caught a break when Lewis bunted into a 5-6-4 double play in the second.

It actually wasn't a bad bunt, but third baseman David Freese was right on top of Lewis, with no threat that he would do anything but bunt. Lewis needed to push the ball to the right side -- easier said than done for an American League pitcher who normally doesn't hit.

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Game 6 is under way, and the Cardinals are in immediate trouble.

Garcia issues a leadoff walk to Kinsler before Andrus singles to left-center, sending Kinsler to third. Hamilton follows with an RBI single.

With runners at the corners, Garcia buckled down. He struck out Michael Young and Adrian Beltre before Nelson Cruz grounded out. Texas leads 1-0.

That's already more than the Rangers managed against Garcia in Game 2, when he yielded only three hits in seven shutout innings while striking out seven.

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Clear skies in St. Louis tonight, after Game 6 of the World Series was postponed a day because of rain. The temperature is 56 degrees with little wind. Not a bad night to play ball.

Much has been made about who would pitch for the Cardinals in a potential Game 7. The rainout gives manager Tony La Russa a chance to bring back ace Chris Carpenter on three days' rest if he wants. But they have to get there first, and nobody is more aware of that than La Russa. He refused to look beyond Game 6 during his pregame news conference today.

On the mound, it's a rematch of the Game 2 pitching duel between Garcia and Lewis. Both were outstanding last time out, and the Rangers rallied in the ninth inning for a 2-1 victory.

Garcia is at his best in Busch Stadium, while Lewis has been Texas' most reliable postseason starter the past two years. He is 4-1 with a 2.22 ERA in seven starts, and it was Lewis who threw a gem to close out the New York Yankees in Game 6 of the 2010 AL championship series.

He gets another shot at a clincher tonight.

Regardless of the Game 5 phone fiasco, the Cardinals have been let down by the deep bullpen that carried them into the Series. But they also need to get their big bats going.

Pujols enters 0 for 12 besides his record-setting outburst in Game 3, when he had three homers, five hits, six RBIs and 14 total bases. Berkman was batting .389, but he had struck out seven times. Holliday was 3 for 18 (.167) without an RBI, and leadoff man Furcal was 3 for 20 (.150).

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