Berkman’s bat helps Cardinals stay alive

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ST. LOUIS (AP) - Lance Berkman was ready for his moment.

With the Cardinals down to their final strike for the second time, the NL comeback player of the year was in the hot seat.

Staying cool and calm, Berkman stroked a game-tying single in the 10th inning of Game 6 of the World Series one inning after David Freese’s two-run triple off Neftali Feliz had tied it.

“I actually felt pretty good about it, because I felt like I was in a no-lose situation,” Berkman said. “If you don’t come through right there, it’s only one at-bat and it’s over with, and they might talk about it for a couple of days but it’s not that big a deal.

“If you come through it’s the greatest.”

Then there’s the bonus. The next time you don’t get that big hit, the criticism might be a bit muted.

“You’ve built a little bank account,” Berkman joked. “If I don’t come through tomorrow I can be like, ‘Well, I came through in Game 6, what do you want from me?’”

Berkman batted cleanup, moving up one spot and switching spots with slumping Matt Holliday. It turned out to be a brilliant move by manager Tony La Russa.

“I think Tony did that because his timing has been off,” Berkman said. “He kind of mixes it up. Tomorrow, if Matt plays, he’ll probably be hitting fourth because they’re going to start that lefty (Matt Harrison).”

Berkman paid off immediately with a two-run home run in the first inning, then he made the Rangers pay for yet another intentional walk to Albert Pujols in the 10th to set the stage for Freese’s game-winning homer in the 11th of a wild, resurgent 10-9 victory on Thursday night.

“I’m definitely not loose, I don’t think this is fun,” Berkman said. “It’s obviously fun when you win, but going into the game it’s not fun. It’s not fun to go up there with a season on the line.

“But you know, I think the experience is incredible.”

Berkman was 3 for 4 and scored three runs, helping to add another improbable chapter to the wild-card Cardinals’ October story. He said he prayed, not for “hits and stuff” but for a “calmness and an ability to compete, because I think that’s all you can ask for.”

“The tendency in these big situations and these big games, your emotions get going, you try to do too much,” Berkman said. “If you’re a .300 hitter, all you can reasonably expect to do in big situations is hit .300.

“I mean, you can’t be better than you are.”

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