- Associated Press - Saturday, October 29, 2011

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Losses like these create reputations. Debacles like this take decades to overcome _ if ever.

Twice within a strike of winning their first World Series title, the Texas Rangers came up short both times.

“You study all year long, get straight A’s and then you have to pass the one test to pass the course,” Colby Lewis said. “We didn’t pass each time.”

In a year of unprecedented collapses, the Rangers saved the worst for last.

A night after they were a pitch from winning the first title in the 51-year history of the franchise, they wasted a two-run lead Friday and lost Game 7 of the World Series 6-2 to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Texas players walked around the quiet clubhouse, exchanging blank looks, not quite ready to go home.

Clubhouse attendants took down their nameplates and packed their gear.

In a century-plus of World Series play, rarely has there been such an empty feeling.

“I want to celebrate and was thinking about it,” Elvis Andrus said, “but that moment never came.”

Until now, the 1986 Boston Red Sox had been the only team to come within an out of the title without winning it. Red Sox fans dwelled on Bill Buckner’s error for 18 years, until the 2004 Sox won the team’s first championship since 1918.

These Rangers will be remembered for a triple failure, for Neftali Feliz allowing David Freese’s tying triple in the ninth inning of Game 6, for Scott Feldman giving up Lance Berkman’s tying single in the 10th and for Mark Lowe allowing Freese’s game-ending home run in the 11th.

“I tried the best that I could,” Feliz said. “What happened? It wasn’t what I envisioned, that was all. A bad outcome.”

Texas had not lost consecutive games since Aug. 23-25 against the Red Sox. But Matt Harrison, Feldman, C.J. Wilson and Mike Adams combined to give up six runs, and the Cardinals became the ninth straight home team to win Game 7.

“This will never be a good feeling. It hurts,” David Murphy said. “It’s hard to go through a full season and play so well and get to Game 7 of a World Series and not get it done.”

After last year’s five-game loss to San Francisco, the Rangers became the first repeat AL pennant winner since the 1998-01 Yankees. They finished as the first team to lose consecutive World Series since the 1991-92 Atlanta Braves.

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