Cardinals Take Game One of World Series


AP Baseball Writer

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Nobody plays a hunch like Tony La Russa. Not

this October, anyway.

The St. Louis manager once again looked like a genius,

especially when Allen Craig pinch-hit for ace Chris Carpenter and

delivered a go-ahead single that sent the Cardinals past the Texas

Rangers 3-2 on Wednesday night in the World Series opener.

Craig's slicing hit in the sixth inning fell inches in front of

sliding right fielder Nelson Cruz. Game 1 was just that tight

throughout a cold, damp evening.

"Man, he's tough," Craig said of hard-throwing reliever Alexi

Ogando. "He came right at me with fastballs, and I missed the

first two. Then that last one I was trying to get the barrel on it,

make the defense make a play. Fortunate, kept it fair, and Cruz

made a great attempt on that. It was a great play all-around."

It was a game perfectly suited for the National League style -

lots of bunts, intentional walks and pitching changes. And in a

postseason in which he's made all the right moves, the 67-year-old

La Russa was at the top of his game.

After pulling Carpenter, La Russa coaxed three scoreless innings

from his deep bullpen. Five relievers did the job, with Jason Motte

closing for his fifth save of the postseason.

A day earlier, Texas manager Ron Washington joked, "I don't

think I can ever live up to matching wits with Tony La Russa." Who

can, these days?

The Cardinals even won without their Rally Squirrel. There were

no sightings of the elusive critter still roaming Busch Stadium -

good thing for the rodent, too, because La Russa probably would've

devised a way to catch him.

Game 2 is Thursday night, with Jaime Garcia starting for the

Cards against Colby Lewis. Texas has not lost two straight games

since August.

This was the first time Texas had ever played in St. Louis. Yet

Josh Hamilton, Cruz and the big-hitting Rangers looked a lot like

the team that fizzled at the plate in last year's World Series

against San Francisco.

Each team wound up with six hits. The wild-card Cardinals just

did more with them.

Lance Berkman put St. Louis ahead with a two-run single in the

fourth. Mike Napoli tied it with a two-run homer in the fifth.

Carpenter earned his eighth postseason win, breaking the team

record he shared with Bob Gibson. Of course, all of Gibby's

victories came in the World Series.

"Carp, he did what he usually does," Craig said. "He was our

leader out there tonight. "Went out there and threw strikes, got

early outs, and he led us tonight. It was great."

Carpenter helped himself with a nifty play in the first inning,

diving to catch a toss from first baseman Albert Pujols and tagging

the bag with his glove. He didn't argue when La Russa removed him -

all the Cards know too well to doubt La Russa's smarts.

Cardinals relievers Fernando Salas, Marc Rzepczynski, Octavio

Dotel, Arthur Rhodes and Motte finished.

C.J. Wilson fell to 0-5 in his last seven postseason starts,

dating to last year.

The Texas lefty recently spent 2½ minutes in a Dallas

cryotherapy chamber, where liquid nitrogen lowered the temperature

to 295 degrees below zero trying to speed body recovery. It was a

bit warmer at the ballpark, at 49 degrees for the first pitch.

Wilson became the first pitcher to lose an All-Star game, an AL

division series game, an AL championship series game and a World

Series game in the same year, STATS LLC said.

In a postseason where St. Louis and Texas starters have

struggled, Carpenter and Wilson each pitched well enough. They both

left in the bottom of the sixth when the managerial wheels started

to spin.

It was 2-all when the Rangers pitched around eighth-place hitter

Nick Punto with a four-pitch walk that put runners at the corners

with two outs. La Russa did not hesitate and pulled Carpenter,

sending up the versatile Craig.

Washington countered, yanking Wilson and bringing in Ogando. All

the pieces in place, it was time to play - and what followed was

the play of the game.

Craig swung through two fastballs, then hit a slicing drive

toward the right field line. Cruz tried to make a sliding catch,

except the ball bounced just before it reached him and thudded off

his left leg for an RBI single. The hit scored NL championship

series MVP David Freese, the St. Louis area prep star who led off

with a double.

Napoli kept up his season of slugging, hitting a two-run homer

in the fifth that made it 2-all. He had come into the game 3 for 3

lifetime against Carpenter and had been the only Texas hitter to

homer off him, but he bounced into a double play with two runners

on his first time up. He avenged that with an opposite-field drive

to right.

Traded twice within a week last winter, Napoli blossomed in

Texas, prompting Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon to pronounced it

"The Year of the Napoli" during the AL playoffs.

The Cardinals took a 2-0 lead in the fourth after Pujols hit -

or was hit by pitch, more precisely. The St. Louis star was plunked

on the lower left leg to start the inning, Matt Holliday sliced a

double and Berkman chopped a two-run single down the first base


Players, umpires and techs needed a little time to work out the


Freese saw Ian Kinsler's leadoff grounder glance off his glove

at third base for a single, and stared at the glove that betrayed

him. The next inning, Adrian Beltre doubled off Freese's leather.

Third base umpire Ron Kulpa missed his first call in a Series.

He ruled Beltre caught Pujols' liner to third when the ball

actually bounced in the opening inning.

And there was a glitch when "American Idol" winner Scotty

McCreery started to sing the national anthem. The microphone didn't

work and he got a replacement. The delay came with Michelle Obama

and Jill Biden standing on the mound to honor military veterans.

The first lady's husband stood in the same place to throw out the

first ball at the 2009 All-Star game.

NOTES: It was 49 degrees at the start, tied for the

third-coldest for an opener since Major League Baseball started

keeping temperature records in 1975. ... This was the Cardinals'

106th World Series game, breaking a tie with the Dodgers and Giants

franchises for second most in history. The Yankees lead with 225.

... Garcia is 0-2 with a 5.74 ERA in three postseason starts. ...

Lewis is 4-1 in the postseason. His loss came this year to Detroit

in the ALCS. ... The team that has won the Series opener in 12 of

the last 14 years has gone on to take the crown. ... This was the

first AL Central vs. NL Central matchup in the Series since

baseball went to six divisions in 1994. ... Texas star Michael

Young had his 35th birthday. Cardinals infielder Daniel Descalso

turned 25. ... NBA All-Star Dirk Nowitzki of the champion Dallas

Mavericks is set to throw out the first ball at Game 3.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)