ST. LOUIS (AP) - Mark Lowe wanted the ball in his hand Thursday night.
The Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals had already waged a thriller for the ages, and they were still tied at the start of the 11th inning. Lowe came into the game to face David Freese, who earlier had driven in the tying runs to send the game to extra innings.
"If you don't want to be in that situation I was in as a pitcher," Lowe said, "you're in the wrong business. This is what I've worked for my whole career and I was where I wanted to be."
Too bad his pitch wasn't.
Lowe's change-up drifted over the plate and Freese tattooed it to center field, the winning homer sending the record crowd of 47,325 at Busch Stadium into a delirious frenzy. The homer gave St. Louis a dramatic 10-9 victory and forced the first Game 7 in the World Series since 2002.
"Just worked the count, and I was worried about getting on base, leding off an inning, taking a walk, breaking a bat, single, whatever," Freese said. "Full count came, and I knew he had a good change-up. So I kind of had that in the back of my head. But sitting here, he threw a change up, he shook to the change up and I got the head out."
The rest will go down in baseball lore.
"I didn't have the results I wanted," Lowe said, "but tomorrow's a new day and I could get in there and get a big out and nobody remembers this game. That's baseball."
Lowe hurt his hamstring doing aerobic exercises in late September, and he wasn't on the roster for the first two rounds of the playoffs. He was finally added just before the World Series opener last Wednesday, and his allowed one run on two hits in an inning of work during Game 3 in Texas.
That was his first appearance since Sept. 20 against Oakland.
He hopes to get another chance in Game 7 on Friday night.
"We've been coming back all year long," Lowe said. "It's not our first walk-off loss. We'll come in here ready to go."
BLACK AND BLUE: Two of the biggest hitters in the World Series are in wait-and-see mode for Game 7 after picking up injuries Thursday night.
Texas slugger Nelson Cruz strained his groin late in the Cardinals' dramatic, come-from-behind 10-9 victory, while St. Louis could be without outfielder Matt Holliday, who hurt the small finger on his right hand while sliding into third base in the sixth inning.
Cruz followed a homer by Adrian Beltre with one of his own in the seventh inning, but he flied out to right leading off the 11th. Cruz could be seen limping down the dugout steps, and Esteban German replaced him in the outfield in the bottom half.
"Cruz sort of hurt his groin a little bit, and I didn't want to take the chance and run him back out there," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "I haven't had anything from the medical department as to the seriousness of it, but we'll just have to wait and see how everything is tomorrow."
Washington said that catcher Mike Napoli, who drove in his 10th run of the World Series earlier in Game 6, was OK after an awkward slide at second base. X-rays on his left ankle were negative.
"Napoli is fine," Washington said.
That doesn't appear to be the case with Holliday, who has been banged up a lot this season.
Holliday wandered too far off third base in the sixth inning. Napoli leaped from his crouch and fired a throw down the line, and Beltre slapped the tag on while guarding the base with his foot. Holliday's right hand bent at an awkward angle, and he was called out on the play.
Holliday said after that game he'll be ready Friday _ "I should be able to play," he said _ but manager Tony La Russa offered a more cautious assessment.
"We thought at first he had fractured it, but I was told by the trainer later that it's not a fracture," La Russa said. "I think it's swelling and he's got a pretty good bruise there. So it may be we need to replace him tomorrow."
SECOND FIDDLE: No matter how the World Series winds up, the Texas Rangers realize they won't be No. 1 back home. And that's all right.
"That's such a high standard, the Cowboys, in our marketplace," general manager Jon Daniels said. "But I don't really look at it as competition with them.
"I think that our fans are good enough and into the sports scene, especially the championship-caliber teams, that there's enough room for all of us," he added.
There's also the Mavericks to contend with.
Daniels notes attendance has picked up dramatically, with the Rangers drawing just under 3 million this season, "and it was the hottest summer on record."
"I know me being a pampered New Yorker, I had trouble handling it, and you would have, too," Daniels said. "And these guys are 40,000 strong in 106 degrees at 7:05 at night."
HALL OF FAME COIN: The House of Representatives voted this week to authorize the U.S. Mint to produce a series of coins honoring the 75th anniversary of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
The bill, introduced in July by Reps. Richard Hanna of New York, Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania and Joe Barton of Texas, passed by a vote of 416-3. It was co-sponsored by 295 members of Congress.
"The National Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Act unites every fan of the game in celebrating the timelessness of America's pastime," Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson said.
"The Coin Act will connect every generation in commemorating the impact Cooperstown has had on the national landscape," Idelson said, "honoring our baseball heroes while educating future generations on the historical significance of the game and its lore."
AP Sports Writer R.B. Fallstrom contributed to this report.