(Reuters) – The Texas Rangers beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-2 on Monday to move within one win of claiming their first World Series title since the franchise was born in 1961.
The victory gave Texas a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.
A two-run double by Mike Napoli in the bottom of the eighth inning snapped a 2-2 tie to lift the Rangers over a Cardinals team that squandered a multitude of chances, leaving 12 men on base while hitting 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
The series shifts to St. Louis for Game Six on Wednesday, with the Rangers starting Colby Lewis against Jaime Garcia.
RELATED: Napoli, Rangers move 1 win from World Series crown
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — A long drive by Mike Napoli, a lucky bounce near the mound and suddenly the Texas Rangers were on the brink of their first World Series championship.
Napoli delivered the biggest hit of his charmed season, lining a tiebreaking two-run double in the eighth inning that sent the Rangers past the St. Louis Cardinals 4-2 on Monday night for a 3-2 edge.
The slugging catcher then capped off his night of double duty, throwing out a would-be base stealer in the ninth as Albert Pujols struck out.
“Pujols is going to put it in play, he’s a good contact hitter,” Napoli said, “and they were just starting the runner, 3-2. As soon as I got it, I just got rid of it and put it on the bag.”
Texas will try to wrap it up in Game 6 on Wednesday night in St. Louis.
If the Rangers eventually do win that elusive crown, the Texas fans who stood and chanted Napoli’s name may forever remember his two-run hit.
“Just trying to get something to the outfield, you know, get a sac fly, get that run across the board,” Napoli said. “I was trying to stay short and I got a pitch I could handle over the middle of the plate and put it in the gap.”
If the Cardinals lose, there’s no doubt which play will stick with manager Tony La Russa for a long, long time.
It was 2-all when Texas put runners on first and second with one out in the eighth, and reliever Marc Rzepczynski was summoned. David Murphy followed with a bouncer back to the mound, a possible inning-ending double play in the making.
But the ball appeared to glance off Rzepczynski’s knee and trickled harmlessly away for a single that loaded the bases. In the dugout, La Russa immediately threw his hands to his head, a true “Oh, no!” moment.
Napoli, who came close to a three-run homer in his previous at-bat, sent a drive up the alley against the pitcher with the nickname “Scrabble.” The double off Rzepczynski sure spelled good things for Texas, with excitable manager Ron Washington waving the runners around from the dugout.
Darren Oliver earned the win and Neftali Feliz closed for his second save of the Series and sixth of the postseason.
After a travel day, the Series will resume at Busch Stadium with Colby Lewis facing Cardinals lefty Jaime Garcia. The weather forecast in St. Louis is daunting, calling for rain and temperatures around 50.