- Associated Press - Thursday, October 20, 2011

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Josh Hamilton and the Rangers are heading home with all the momentum _ and their slumbering offense is finally showing signs of life.

Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus delivered back-to-back singles in the ninth inning Thursday night before Hamilton and Michael Young brought them in with a pair of timely sacrifice flies, allowing Texas to tie the World Series with a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 2.

Baffled most of the night by Jaime Garcia and the Cardinals’ stingy bullpen, the Rangers were three outs from heading back to Texas in another two-game hole. Instead, they mustered just enough offense on a night when runs were at a premium, and they suddenly seem to have the upper hand.

“It was calm in our dugout the whole night,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “You’ve got to keep fighting. We needed to get one here. And I think tonight was one of those great ballgames that you’ll continue to see between the Texas Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals.”

Texas powered its way into the World Series by launching balls out of the park.

Nelson Cruz was the MVP of the AL championship series mostly because he had six homers and 13 RBIs against the Detroit Tigers _ both major league records for a postseason series. Kinsler and Adrian Beltre each bopped 32 homers during the season, Hamilton wasn’t far behind with 25, and Mike Napoli’s homer drove in Texas’ only runs in a 3-2 loss to St. Louis in Game 1.

But with the big bats fizzling, the Rangers used daring baserunning to finally get some runs across.

Kinsler singled off previously untouchable closer Jason Motte to start the ninth, and Washington sent him in an effort to put the tying run in scoring position. It wound up being a bang-bang play at second, but Kinsler slid in safely just ahead of the strong throw by catcher Yadier Molina.

Andrus followed with a base hit to center that sent Kinsler to third, and Andrus alertly advanced to second when the cutoff throw deflected off the glove of first baseman Albert Pujols and went all the way to the plate.

That was critical. Hamilton hit the first pitch from Arthur Rhodes to right field for a tying sacrifice fly. Andrus was aggressive again in moving up to third base on the play, and he came home moments later when Young hit his sacrifice fly to center.

The Rangers were in jeopardy of heading home in the same predicament they faced last year.

After dropping the first two World Series games in franchise history in San Francisco, Texas managed to win Game 3 behind the stellar pitching of Colby Lewis. But the Rangers lost the next two games and wound up watching the Giants celebrate on their home field.

That’s the fate they’ll try to avoid when this year’s Series resumes with Game 3 on Saturday night.

Hamilton’s clutch sacrifice fly may have been about the extent of what he could do.

The ailing Rangers slugger said before the game that a sore groin that’s been bothering him for months would probably have put him on the disabled list if this was the regular season. Instead, Hamilton has been forced to play through pain on baseball’s biggest stage.

The pain was evident in his first plate appearance Thursday night, when Hamilton shattered his bat on a grounder toward third base. The ball took so long to reach David Freese that it could have been a close play at first base had Hamilton been healthy. Instead, he gingerly left the batter’s box and slowly headed down the line for what wound up being an easy out.

He remains hitless in seven Series at-bats, and is 2 for 27 going back to last year’s World Series, but had enough power in his stride to launch a sacrifice fly to the outfield when it mattered most.

That helped to send the Rangers back home with all the momentum.

“It would have been hard,” Hamilton said of the prospects of a two-game hole. “We would have been comfortable going back to our place, having three games. They’re just like we are, never say die, ‘til the last out is made. It makes it fun.”



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