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ST. LOUIS (AP) - The greatest World Series game ever, or one of the greatest?

Fans were debating the head-scratching decisions, amateurish mix-ups and mighty clutch performances of Game 6 on Friday, eagerly rehashing a series of performances unmatched in the championship’s 108-year history.

The St. Louis Cardinals were one strike from elimination not once but twice, rallying to beat the Texas Rangers 10-9 on David Freese’s home run in the 11th inning Thursday night and force the World Series to a Game 7 for the first time since 2002.

St. Louis went on to take the title with a 6-2 victory Friday night.

“I’m sure someone already has invoked Dickens,” said John Thorn, baseball’s official historian. “It was the best of games. It was the worst of games. It’s certainly in the top 10 among postseason games. It may be in the top five.”

Where it ranks is a question of personal preference. But certainly it’s part of a group that includes extra-inning finales in 1912 and 1924, Don Larsen’s perfect game in 1956, Bill Mazeroski’s Series-ending home run in Game 7 in 1960, Carlton Fisk’s 12th-inning home run that won Game 6 in 1975, the Don Denkinger game in 1985, the Bill Buckner error that ended Game 6 in 1986, hobbling Kirk Gibson’s home run in the 1988 opener, the Jack Morris 10-inning shutout in Game 7 in 1991 and Luis Gonzalez’s winning single off Mariano Rivera in Game 7 in 2001.

The World Series that many thought wouldn’t be worth watching turned into a classic.

“It’s very, very high up there,” broadcaster Bob Costas said. “There are other all-time great games that have been played well from top to bottom. Part of what made this compelling is the gaffes, followed by heroics _ by the same guys. There were debatable decisions by both sides, so many twists and turns. The word ‘unbelievable’ is constantly used in sports. This game actually beat the adjective ‘unbelievable.’”

Perhaps it’s easier to rank this among only games at the same stage of the Series.

“I think among Game 6s, I might take this one,” Thorn said. “For excitement, I would say the closest to this would be Game 7 in 1960, where you had lead reversals, horrible blunders, sloppy play, wretched pitching in spots and great heroics capped by the walk-off homer.”

Before Thursday night, a team had been one out from elimination and come back to win just twice in Series history. Then, improbably, it happened in both the ninth and 10th innings.

“Good pitching? No. Good baseball? No,” Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson said. “But there were so many goods _ leadership, character, never-say-die attitude. It certainly was a thriller.”

Almost forgotten were the bumbles and stumbles earlier in the night, when the teams comically combined for five errors that led to four unearned runs. The Cardinals dropped a fly ball and a popup.

“In terms of a team failing, repeatedly and profoundly, on the elemental challenges _ and then prevailing? I’ve never seen a team overcome itself like that,” said baseball historian Keith Olbermann of Current TV. “In that sense it’s the greatest ‘comeback’ in a potentially decisive game.”

The 623rd World Series game truly was like no other in baseball’s championship.

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