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Game 5: Napoli gives Rangers 4-2 lead after 8
Question of the Day
Mike Napoli's two-run double off Marc Rzepczynski gave Texas a 4-2 lead in the eighth inning.
Curious decision by Cardinals manager Tony La Russa to let Rzepczynski face Napoli, who eats up left-handed pitching. Lance Lynn was warming in the bullpen with Napoli at the plate _ not sure if he was ready yet.
Later in the inning, La Russa brought in Lynn just to issue an intentional walk. Once closer Jason Motte was warm, Lynn was lifted and Motte came in to strike out Elvis Andrus with the bases loaded, ending the inning.
Neftali Feliz came on in the ninth to try to close it out and put Texas within one win of its first World Series championship.
Napoli has nine RBIs in the series.
Michael Young started the rally with a leadoff double against Octavio Dotel. With two on and one out, Rzepczynski entered to face David Murphy. Rangers manager Ron Washington stayed with Murphy, a left-handed hitter, and he hit a comebacker that deflected off Rzepczynski toward second base for an infield single.
That loaded the bases for Napoli.
Chris Carpenter appeared to be in complete control. Featuring that big curveball of his, he retired Josh Hamilton on an easy grounder and then struck out Michael Young to start the sixth.
But then Adrian Beltre tracked one of those curves and homered to left field, dropping down on his back knee as he finished a huge swing, a la Reggie Jackson.
Earlier in the game, Beltre swung and missed the same way at one of Carpenter's curves. He takes a swing like that every so often. Fox showed footage of him hitting a home run out of Fenway Park when he was with Boston last year on a big cut that dropped him to his right knee.
With runners at the corners, Napoli flied out to deep right-center to end the inning. Fox cameras caught a fired-up Carpenter shouting curses in the direction of first base, perhaps intended for Napoli.
Score is tied at 2 after seven innings.
St. Louis is 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position and has stranded 11 overall.
Allen Craig got thrown out trying to steal second with Albert Pujols at bat in the seventh. Bad play.
No way you can get thrown out with Pujols at the plate. And even if you're safe, first base opens up and the Rangers will just walk Pujols.
That's exactly what they did after Craig was cut down. Even with nobody on base, Texas intentionally walked Pujols for the third time in the game.
Seems as though there must have been a mixup with a sign or something. Fox shows Craig trying to explain himself to La Russa in the dugout.
Alexi Ogando retired David Freese on a bases-loaded fly to center to end the seventh.
C.J. Wilson was in trouble in the fifth before retiring cleanup batter Matt Holliday in a key situation for the second time in the game.
Wilson intentionally walked Pujols again, loading the bases with two outs. Holliday grounded out on a 3-2 pitch, keeping the score 2-1 Cardinals.
After an intentional walk to Pujols in the third put runners at the corners, Holliday grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Wilson was a little erratic, throwing 100 pitches through five innings and walking five _ two intentional. But he held it together in some tight spots and kept the Rangers close.
He was lifted for Scott Feldman with one out in the sixth. Feldman struck out Nick Punto with runners at second and third to end the inning.
With runners at second and third and one out in the fifth, Wilson struck out Craig _ giving Texas a chance to walk Pujols with first base open. Craig is hitless in his last nine at-bats since a first-inning homer in Game 3.
Wilson's curveball has been effective, and he's found a backdoor cutter against right-handed batters, hitting the outside corner a few times. Wilson's cutter might be his best pitch, but that's a tough one to execute _ away to a right-handed hitter.
Usually, cut fastballs break in off the inside corner and bore in on the hands. You've got to be pretty good to command it on both sides. Mariano Rivera, for example, does a great job throwing his cutter to both sides of the plate.
Freese lined out to right field for the second out in the fourth. The more you watch Freese hit, the more impressive he is. Tough at-bats, keeps his front side closed, very quick hands, power to the opposite field.
Mitch Moreland, right on cue.
Fox color man Tim McCarver had just finished saying that Moreland has some serious pop, even though he hadn't shown it this postseason, when Moreland drove a 2-0 pitch from Carpenter into the second deck in right field to cut Texas' deficit to 2-1 in the third inning.
Before that, Moreland was 2 for 23 (.087) in the postseason. He did have 16 homers during the regular season.
Carpenter was mad at himself for not getting the ball down.
Two walks by Wilson and then some shaky defense hurts the Rangers again.
Wilson walked Holliday and Lance Berkman to start the second inning, also throwing a wild pitch that allowed Holliday to reach second with some aggressive baserunning.
Yadier Molina hit an RBI single and David Murphy bobbled the ball in left field for an error that let Berkman go to third.
That was costly. Skip Schumaker, making his first World Series start, followed with a grounder to first. Moreland might have had a shot to get Berkman at the plate, but he dropped the ball for a moment before stepping on the bag. Berkman scored to give St. Louis a 2-0 lead.
Murphy made a diving catch on Punto's humpback liner to end the inning, saving another run.
Funny scene: The diminutive Punto brought the bat with him all the way to first base, rounded the bag and began to try to break the bat over his thigh. Then he thought better of it. Might have saved himself some embarrassment on national TV.
Wilson made an error in the third when he bounced a flip toss to first base on Rafael Furcal's bunt single. That was Texas' sixth error in this World Series and 10th in 15 postseason games. Furcal went to second, but Wilson escaped by getting Holliday to ground into an around-the-horn double play.
Game 5 started the same way Game 4 did, with a lineout by Furcal to Beltre at third. Tough start for Furcal on his 34th birthday.
Pujols swings at a 3-0 pitch and flies out to center field to end the first inning. Wilson retired the Cardinals in order.
Besides his record-setting performance in Game 3, Pujols is 0 for 11 in the Series.
Carpenter issues a two-out walk to Josh Hamilton in the first, but that's it. Scoreless after one.
This is shaping up as the most competitive World Series in nearly a decade.
With the Cardinals and Rangers tied at two games apiece, Carpenter is facing Wilson in a rematch of the opener.
It's the first time the Series has been tied 2-all since 2003, when the Florida Marlins upset the New York Yankees in six games. The last seven-game Series was the year before that, when the Angels beat the Giants.
Carpenter has excelled in October, but Wilson has been a dud. A 16-game winner during the regular season with a 2.94 ERA, the Texas ace is 0-3 with a 7.17 ERA in four postseason starts this year.
Those numbers could cost him some serious cash, too, because Wilson can become a free agent next month. This is his last chance to prove to potential suitors that he can thrive under pressure in a big postseason game.
No pitcher has ever lost four times in one postseason, according to STATS LLC.
Wilson walked six and lost to Carpenter 3-2 in Game 1, though the lefty threw the ball better than he had in his previous playoff outings.
The fiery Carpenter is 3-0 with a 3.52 ERA in four starts this postseason. The only time he didn't win, he was pitching on three days' rest for the first time in his career.
Carpenter owns eight career postseason wins, tied with Rivera for the most among active pitchers.
Russa made a change to his lineup for Game 5, inserting Schumaker in center field. Schumaker, who is batting eighth, replaced slumping Jon Jay, who is 0 for 14 in the Series.
The scrappy Schumaker, who mostly played second base this season, missed the NL championship series because of a strained muscle on his right side. He has one at-bat in the World Series.
Game 6 is Wednesday night in St. Louis, where some raw weather is expected.
By John McAfee
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