for this game

Resilient Cardinals become World Series champs

Oct 29, 2011 - 5:35 AM St. Louis, MO (Sports Network) - The St. Louis Cardinals, improbably, are World Series champions.

Chris Carpenter worked through six-plus effective innings on short rest and the Cardinals' bullpen once again shut down the Texas Rangers to take Game 7 of the Fall Classic, 6-2.

David Freese sealed his MVP performance by knocking in a pair of runs, Yadier Molina went 2-for-3 with two RBI and Allen Craig homered and stole one away from Nelson Cruz to put the finishing touches on an incredible two months from Tony La Russa's bunch.

"It's unbelievable, amazing, incredible," said La Russa, who also guided the club to a title in 2006, after receiving the Commissioner's Trophy.

The three-time champion's opinion was far from cliched.

Trailing the National League wild-card leading Braves by 10 1/2 games on August 25, the Cardinals weren't even expected to be playing in October.

After overtaking Atlanta on the last day of the regular season, St. Louis took on the role of underdog against the 102-win Phillies in the divisional round. When Carpenter outdueled Roy Halladay in a deciding Game 5, the heavy-hitting Brewers were pegged as the favorites to end the storybook run.

The Cardinals sent Milwaukee packing, then faced a Rangers team looking for retribution from last year's World Series loss to the Giants.

Texas was one strike away from its first championship on two occasions in Game 6, only to have the Cardinals come back and force a Game 7 on Freese's walkoff homer in the 11th inning.

"I just want to say congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals, Tony La Russa and his staff, and his players did a get job, and they're truly the world champions. I thought they beat a pretty good team, and they deserve it," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.

While not as climatic, Friday's deciding game was close in the early stages.

Carpenter (2-0), pitching on three days' rest for the second time this postseason, recovered after yielding run-scoring doubles to Josh Hamilton and Michael Young in the first inning. Texas could have had more in the at-bat, but Ian Kinsler was picked off first base by Molina following his leadoff single.

Freese, naturally, made it a new game in the bottom half.

Matt Harrison (0-2), tasked with starting a deciding World Series game in the first postseason of his career, issued a pair of two-out walks to Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman in front on Freese, who tied Game 6 with a two-run, ninth-inning triple before sealing the instant classic in the 11th.

Harrison grooved a payoff pitch to the new hometown hero, and Freese lined a gapper to left that scored both runners with ease, notching his 20th and 21st RBI of the postseason to set a new MLB record.

"I'm trying to soak this all in," said the 28-year-old Freese. "I've tried to soak in this whole postseason as much as I can because you never know if it's your last attempt at a title. You know, it's going to take me a little bit, I think, to realize what we've accomplished."

Carpenter stranded a pair in the second inning and retired the side in order in the third. In his other short-rest start, the veteran right-hander only lasted three innings in Game 2 of the NLDS against the Phillies.

In the home third, Craig gave St. Louis the lead by sending a 3-2 pitch into the bullpen beyond the right-field wall for his third home run of the series.

Kinsler singled past a diving Freese to open the fifth and was moved to second when Elvis Andrus sacrificed him over with a bunt. Hamilton followed with a fly ball to foul territory along the third-base side, and Freese made leaning grab at the railing of the Rangers' dugout for the second out.

Carpenter struck out Young to end the inning and received some help in the sixth when Craig made a perfectly-timed leap at the left-field wall to steal a potential home run away from Cruz.

By that point, the Cardinals had padded their lead with a pair of runs despite not recording a hit in the fifth. Scott Feldman, one of three Texas pitchers to get hit with a blown save on Thursday, relieved Harrison and filled the bases with a walk, a hit batsman and a two-out intentional free pass.

Feldman stayed in to face Molina and his payoff pitch was narrowly off the plate, forcing in Craig. C.J. Wilson, the starter in Games 1 and 5, entered from the bullpen and plunked Furcal with his first pitch. Pujols, who reached base when Feldman's 0-2 pitch scraped his baggy jersey, scored for a 5-2 cushion.

"It doesn't matter the numbers, it doesn't matter the records," said Pujols, who is expected to become a free agent in the offseason. "It doesn't matter the money you make, what matters is to raise that trophy and to be able to bring that smile to the city of St. Louis."

La Russa pulled Carpenter after the righty yielded a leadoff double in the seventh. Arthur Rhodes and Octavio Dotel combined to retire the next three hitters, and Molina added an insurance run in the bottom half with an RBI single up the middle.

Lance Lynn hurled a perfect eighth and handed the ball over to Jason Motte, who retired the side in order in the ninth, sending Busch Stadium into a frenzy when Craig sealed the franchise's 11th title by tracking down David Murphy's fly ball at the warning track in left.

"This team is the greatest I've ever played on," said Berkman, who for 11-plus seasons played for St. Louis' rival in Houston. "I couldn't think of a better ending."

Game Notes

Of a possible 41 postseason games, 38 were played to tie an all-time high (2003), and a record 13 were decided by one run...The home team has won Game 7 of the World Series 20 of out 37 times, including the last nine....Molina tied Gary Carter for most RBI in a single World Series by an NL catcher with nine...St. Louis is 8-3 in Game 7s of the World Series...This was the first Game 7 of any kind for the Rangers...The Cardinals used a postseason record 75 relievers, while the Rangers weren't far behind with 70...St. Louis is the fifth wild card team to win the World Series...Freese became the sixth player ever to win both the NLCS MVP and World Series MVP in the same year.