ARLINGTON, TEXAS (AP) - The bullpen that did so much to get the St. Louis Cardinals into the World Series may end up costing them the championship.
Asked to protect a tie in the eighth inning of Game 5, Octavio Dotel gave up a leadoff double and things quickly went from bad to worse. It took three more relievers to get out of the inning, which finished with Texas on its way to a 4-2 victory and a 3-2 lead in the series.
Mark Rzepczynski replaced Dotel with two on and none out, and gave up an infield single that deflected off his leg to load the bases. Then the left-hander served up the big hit, a double by Mike Napoli that one-hopped the wall in right-center field and drove in the decisive runs.
Manager Tony La Russa turned to Lance Lynn and Jason Motte to get out of the jam, but it was too late. The damage was done.
La Russa's constant mixing and matching of pitchers was celebrated as a big reason the Cardinals overcame a 10 1/2 game deficit down the stretch to make the postseason, and his deft handling of the bullpen helped them get past Philadelphia and Milwaukee in the first two rounds. But things haven't been the same since Motte closed out a victory in Game 1.
Relievers have given up eight runs over their last 11 innings. Motte lost Game 2, Mitchell Boggs allowed a game-breaking three-run homer _ to Napoli _ in Game 4 and Dotel was the loser in Game 5.
The Cardinals head home for Game 6 needing to turn things around quickly. The Rangers are just one win from their first championship.