ST LOUIS: The St Louis Cardinals were crowned World Series champions for the 11th time in franchise history after routing the Texas Rangers 6-2 in game seven.
Allen Craig blasted a home run and ace Chris Carpenter scattered six hits over six innings for the Cardinals, who performed at their best on baseball’s biggest stage when their backs were against the wall.
“This is what you dream about, winning World Series, and it’s always in a game seven,” said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. “It’s hard to believe it came true.”
The Cardinals won Major League Baseball’s best-of-seven championship final four games to three to take their second World Series in six years after trailing the series 2-3 heading back to St Louis for game six.
David Freese, voted the World Series Most Valuable Player and the hero for St Louis in an epic game-six victory, had a two-run double in the first inning for the Cardinals.
“This means everything. This is definitely a dream come true,” said Freese. “This whole ride… this team deserves it. This organisation is top notch. We have the best fans in baseball.”
St Louis parlayed solid pitching, an explosive start at the plate and some clutch defensive plays into a game-seven victory in front of a crowd of 47,399 at Busch Stadium.
Right-hander Carpenter, starting on just three days’ rest, struck out five while the Cardinals scored two runs in both the first and fifth innings and tacked on single runs in the third and seventh.
Craig hammered a 379-foot homer in the bottom of the third off Rangers’ starter Matt Harrison for the go-ahead run, which would prove to be the last run the Cardinals needed.
The Rangers’ bullpen, which carried them through much of the post-season, stumbled in game seven.
“I don’t have the answer,” said Rangers manager Ron Washington. “I wish they could’ve continued to be dominant. Those are the guys got us here. It didn’t get done.”
Both St Louis runs in the fifth came without the Cardinals getting a hit as the Rangers pitchers took a walk on the wild side, dishing out walks and hitting batters.
It marked the first time since late August the Rangers had lost two games in a row.
“That is the way baseball goes,” said Washington, whose club never recovered from a heart-breaking 10-9 extra-inning loss in game six.
“We fought to try and put runs on the board. I tip my hat to Carpenter. We fought to put runs on the board. We pressured him after that first inning. He bent but he didn’t break.”
The Cardinals’ post-season resilience was on display once again in game seven. It is only the fifth time in the last 23 World Series that the Series was extended to a seventh game.
Their improbable game-six victory included twice being down to the final strike, but the Cardinals survived with a pair of season-saving hits, including a walk-off homer by Freese in the 11th inning.
The teams picked up Friday where they left off by scoring four runs in the first inning of game seven.
On a cool evening with a temperature of 10 degrees Celsius, the Rangers got on the board first. Michael Young and Josh Hamilton hit back-to-back doubles off Carpenter to make it 2-0. Freese continued his torrid hitting streak by belting a two-run double to tie it 2-2 in the first.
Craig’s solo homer to right field off Harrison gave St. Louis a 3-2 lead. Carpenter, who settled into form after a shaky first, got plenty of support from his team-mates. Freese also contributed on defense, racing over to catch a Hamilton pop fly in front of the Rangers’ dugout before hitting the railing and falling down.
Craig then made a leaping catch at the wall in deep right field to take a potential homer from Rangers’ slugger Nelson Cruz in the top of the sixth. The Cardinals added two more runs in the fifth on some shoddy pitching by the Rangers. Craig scored on a bases-loaded walk by Rangers’ reliever Scott Feldman to make it 4-2.
Cardinals’ batter Rafael Furcal was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, allowing Albert Pujols to score from third and give St. Louis a 5-2 lead. The Cardinals played without outfielder Matt Holliday, who injured his right wrist in game six.