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Craig's homer, Freese's 2-run double give Cards 3-2 lead over Rangers in World Series Game 7
ST. LOUIS (AP) ' David Freese followed his game-winning home run the previous night with a tying, two-run double in the first, Allen Craig homered in the third and the St. Louis Cardinals led the Texas Rangers 3-2 after three innings Friday night in the first World Series Game 7 in nine years.
Josh Hamilton and Michael Young hit RBI doubles in the first against Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter, the first pitcher in a decade to make three starts in one World Series. But St. Louis came right back in the bottom half off Matt Harrison, who walked a pair of batters before the big hit by Freese.
Craig, starting because of an injury to Matt Holliday, hit his third home run of the Series with one out in the third, sending a 91 mph pitch into the Cardinals bullpen in right field.
On Thursday night, the Cardinals were twice down to their final strike before an exhilarating 10-9, 11-inning victory in one of baseball's greatest games. Freese, who grew up in the St. Louis area, hit a tying, two-run double in the ninth, Lance Berkman had a tying single in a two-run 10th and Freese won the game with a leadoff home run in the 11th.
"You hear people say anyone can get the last three outs," Texas manager Ron Washington said Friday afternoon. "No, no, no, no. You've got to have a special, special soul, special mentality, special aggressiveness, something, to get those last outs. We didn't get them."
Carpenter, pitching on three days' rest for only the second time in his career, allowed four hits and two walks in the first three innings, throwing 51 pitchers.
Harrison gave up three hits and two walks, throwing 54 pitches.
St. Louis was trying for its 11th title, hoping to become the 19th team to overturn a 3-2 Series deficit. The Rangers trying for their first championship in the 51-season history of a franchise that started as the expansion Washington Senators in 1961.
Home teams had won eight straight Game 7s since the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates' 4-1 victory at Baltimore.
In his first outing on short rest, Carpenter gave up four runs over three innings in Game 2 of the division series at Philadelphia. He wasn't sharp at all at the start of this one, either, starting seven of his first 10 batters with balls.
Ian Kinsler singled leading off, then tried to steal second on a 1-0 pitch to Elvis Andrus, stumbled and was thrown out at first by catcher Yadier Molina. Andrus walked, and Hamilton doubled down the right-field line for a 1-0 lead. Young then lofted a soft opposite-field double to right to drive in Hamilton. Carpenter struck out Adrian Beltre and retired Nelson Cruz on a groundout to limit the damage.
Harrison then got into trouble with his control with two outs in the bottom half, and the Rangers had ace C.J. Wilson starting to warm up after five batters and 23 pitches.
Albert Pujols walked for the sixth time in the Series, on four pitches, and Berkman walked on five. Freese worked the count full and lined the ball on two hops to the wall in left-center, with Pujols raising both arms in triumph as he crossed the plate. Molina then flied out to Hamilton in front of the fence in center.
Mike Napoli singled leading off the second, and David Murphy hit into a forceout. Harrison sacrificed Murphy to third, Kinsler walked and Murphy took third when Pujols dropped a pickoff throw at first from Molina. Carpenter induced Andrus to hit into an inning-ending comebacker.
Rafael Furcal singled leading off the bottom half, but Skip Schumaker grounded into a double play on the next pitch. Carpenter hit Beltre on the forearm with a pitch with two outs in the third before retiring Cruz on a flyout.
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa didn't decide on Carpenter instead of a rested Kyle Lohse until Friday morning, waiting until after pitching coach Dave Duncan spoke with his ace.
"Dave had a real heart-to-heart with him to gauge just how ready he was to pitch just physically, not mentally but physically," La Russa said. "The last thing is I think what he means to our club, I think our guys feel better about him starting than anybody."
Carpenter, 3-0 this postseason and 8-2 in his career, became just the second pitcher in 20 years to make three starts in one World Series, following Arizona's Curt Schilling in 2001.
La Russa moved slumping Furcal down to No. 7 in the batting order and hit second baseman Ryan Theriot leadoff. Craig started in left field in place of Holliday, who sprained his right wrist in Game 6 and was replaced on the active roster by rookie outfielder Adron Chambers.
NOTES: The Cardinals' also will play the next game in the major leagues, helping open the Miami Marlins' new ballpark on April 4. ... A record 38 of a possible 43 postseason games were played this year. A record 13 have been decided by one run, one more than 1995, 1997 and 2003.