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Cardinals win World Series with Game 7 victory

2011 World Series Game 7 - Texas Rangers v St Louis Cardinals

2011 World Series Game 7 - Texas Rangers v St Louis Cardinals

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Updated: November 30, 2011 8:10AM

ST. LOUIS — This is what happens when your heart gets stomped in a crazy Game 6.

Cubs fans could have filled the Texas Rangers in on that key detail.

Despite being favored for the second consecutive World Series, the Rangers — twice one strike from winning it all Thursday — went home wondering what exactly hit them.

The wild-card St. Louis Cardinals, who were left for dead after being 101/2 games back Aug. 29, capped an unreal World Series with a 6-2 victory Friday in Game 7 in front of a record crowd of 47,399 at Busch Stadium that was awash in a season of red-and-white confetti when the final out landed in left fielder Allen Craig’s glove.

It was the Cardinals’ 11th World Series title — second only to the New York Yankees’ 27 — and their second since 2006.

‘‘Now it’s a dream come true,’’ World Series most valuable player David Freese said. ‘‘We believed. We wanted it. You sneak in like the way we did, you get an extra feeling.’’

On the other side, it’s so tough to rebound after getting your heart yanked out in the postseason,
especially in a Game 6. Ask the 2003 Cubs or the 1986 Boston Red Sox.

Now add the Rangers, who lost the World Series to the San Francisco Giants in five games last
season, to that sad group.

After a Game 6 for the ages, the Rangers and Cardinals picked up where they left off.

The Rangers struck quickly against Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter, who was pitching on three days of rest. Facing Carpenter for the third time in the World Series, the first four Rangers reached base and two of them scored, thanks to consecutive RBI doubles by Josh Hamilton and Michael Young. The damage could have been worse had leadoff hitter Ian Kinsler not been picked off first base after opening the game with a single.

But a 2-0 first-inning deficit was no problem for the Cardinals.
Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman drew consecutive two-out walks from Rangers lefty Matt Harrison to bring up Game 6 star Freese.

Of course, Freese did it again, lining a two-run double to left-center to give him a record 23 RBI this postseason. And the score was 2-2.

It was Freese, a kid from suburban St. Louis who grew up rooting for the Cardinals, who delivered the tying two-run triple in the ninth inning of Game 6, then belted the walk-off home run in the 11th. The third baseman was the MVP of the National League Championship Series and kept delivering in the World Series.

‘‘If you sent that in a script,’’ commissioner Bud Selig marveled before Game 7, ‘‘it would get thrown back in your face.’’

The Cardinals, who didn’t even bother sending out scouts for the postseason, spent the last month writing unbelievable scripts.

‘‘Amazing,’’ said manager Tony La Russa, who won his third World Series, two with the Cardinals and one with the 1989 Oakland Athletics. ‘‘Incredible.’’

The Cardinals took a 3-2 lead in the third when Craig, knowing he could sit on a 3-2 fastball from Harrison with Pujols on deck, smoked a homer to right field. For Craig, who has been used mostly as a pinch hitter, it was his fourth home run of the postseason and third of the World Series.

‘‘Wow, what a team,’’ Berkman said. ‘‘I’ve never been with a group of guys who had a will to come back the way this one did.’’

Carpenter labored through the first two innings, throwing 34 pitches before delivering his first curveball. But he seemed to get stronger — with his velocity rising — as the game progressed. He outlasted Harrison, who was replaced by Scott Feldman to open the fifth.

Feldman quickly found trouble, and the Cardinals scored two runs without a hit, thanks to three walks and two hit batters.

It was clear the Rangers were cooked when Craig went over the left-field wall to rob Nelson Cruz of a homer with one out in the sixth, keeping the score 5-2.

‘‘I wish I had the answers,’’ Rangers manager Ron Washington said. ‘‘I don’t.’’

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