World Series 2011: Cardinals beat Rangers in finale
St Louis Cardinals won baseball's World Series after beating Texas Rangers 6-2 in the decisive seventh game.
Both sides drove in two runs in the first innings, but Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter then began to dominate as the runs dried up for Texas.
Allen Craig's solo home run in the third put the Cardinals ahead before the Rangers bullpen contrived to walk in two more runs in the fifth.
And the hosts added another run in the seventh as they cruised to victory.
WORLD SERIES 2011
- Game 1: Cardinals 3-2 Rangers
- Game 2: Cardinals 1-2 Rangers
- Game 3: Rangers 7-16 Cardinals
- Game 4: Rangers 4-0 Cardinals
- Game 5: Rangers 4-2 Cardinals
- Game 6: Cardinals 10-9 Rangers (11 innings)
- Game 7: Cardinals 6-2 Rangers
(home team listed first)
It was heartbreaking for the Rangers, who were beaten by San Francisco Giants in last year's World Series - and had been one strike away from winning 2011's Fall Classic on two occasions in Thursday's epic Game Six.
"Someone has to win, someone has to lose and the Cardinals did it," admitted Texas manager Ron Washington. "They were the better team."
The night started badly for Texas when leadoff hitter Ian Kinsler was caught stealing, but Josh Hamilton and Michael Young drove in a pair of runs as Texas got after Carpenter early on.
But the Cardinals drew level in the bottom of the first innings after Rangers starter Matt Harrison walked Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman.
The stage was set for Game Six hero David Freese, who steered a double into left field to score both runners and level the score at 2-2.
While Carpenter, pitching on only three days' rest, threw five scoreless innings, the hosts took the lead for the first time when Craig smashed his homer over the right field fence.
Winning the World Series is all about how you play in October, not over the whole season - and nobody's played better in October than the Cardinals. They won the wild card on the final day of the regular season and battled their way into this World Series, and they never gave up. That is the hallmark of this club, and that is why they'll be remembered as a great champion.
Craig was only starting the game as regular left fielder Matt Holliday was ruled out with a sprained right wrist he sustained in Game Six.
The Cardinals threatened another rally in the bottom of the fifth when reliever Scott Feldman walked Craig and hit Pujols with a pitch.
Berkman grounded out, but Texas gambled by intentionally walking Freese to load the bases for Yadier Molina - and it backfired as Feldman walked in a run.
That prompted Washington to lift Feldman in favour of CJ Wilson - who had started Games One and Five but began his career as a closer - and the left-hander's first pitch hit Rafael Furcal to walk in another run and leave the Rangers trailing 5-2.
WORLD SERIES STAT ATTACK
- David Freese 's two-run double in the first innings set a post-season record of 21 runs batted in (RBI)
- St Louis have won more World Series (11) than any team except New York Yankees (27)
Craig made a great leaping catch in front of the left-field fence to deny Nelson Cruz a home run, while Carpenter was eventually pulled early in the seventh innings as manager Tony La Russa - the master of matching pitchers with specific batters - turned to his bullpen.
"I was hoping to have an opportunity to go ahead and pitch in this game and fortunately it worked out," said Carpenter.
"It started off a little rough in the first. But I was able to collect myself, make some pitches and our guys did an awesome job to battle back."
Berkman, a Texan who was a World Series runner-up with Houston Astros in 2005, hustled well to start another Cardinals rally in the seventh innings, and this time Mike Adams was the Rangers reliever to suffer as Molina drove in Berkman to make it 6-2.
With the record 47,399 crowd joined by thousands more surrounding Busch Stadium to share the Cardinals' moment of glory, Jason Motte was handed the chance to come in as closer and retired the side in style.
Fittingly, it was Craig in left field who caught a David Murphy fly ball for the final out as St Louis wrapped up their 11th Fall Classic triumph.