Cardinals win first World Series since 1982Oct 28, 2006 - 3:33 AM ST. LOUIS (Ticker) -- One error by Justin Verlander was more costly than two misplays by Chris Duncan.
Jeff Weaver overcame some shaky defense to pitch eight outstanding innings as the St. Louis Cardinals captured their first championship in 24 years with a 4-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers in Game Five of the World Series.
St. Louis went ahead for good in the fourth inning after Verlander committed a throwing error - the fifth by a Detroit pitcher in the series - that led to two runs.
After a tumultuous season filled with injuries and three losing streaks of seven or more games, the Cardinals won their first World Series since 1982. They had lost in the Fall Classic in 1985, 1987 and 2004.
"There were times during the year where we struggled, but there was nobody who doubted we could put it together - play "Cardinal Baseball," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. "And maybe something like this could happen."
Weaver got some added satisfaction by defeating his former team which drafted him in the first round in 1998.
"Well it's funny how things work. You couldn't ask for a better scenario. Just kind of full circle," said Weaver, who pitched for Detroit from 1999-2002. "You don't expect things like that to happen, but when you have the opportunity to go out there and have a chance to win, especially against a team that used to play for."
In front of a Busch Stadium record crowd of 46,638 that withstood bitter cold and blustery winds, Yadier Molina had three hits and scored two runs and World Series MVP David Eckstein had two hits and drove in two runs for the Cardinals.
"I don't think their is a guy in here that wanted to go back to Detroit. We wanted to win here," Weaver said. "We had the opportunity and the position to do so and just very lucky to make it happen.
"The fans were up on their feet from the get-go, just like the good fans should, and we gave them something to cheer for. And the Midwest is all about their sports teams and you forget that when you go to the bigger cities and things of that nature."
The Cardinals won 83 games during the regular season, the fewest by a team to capture a World Series.
St. Louis also limped into the playoffs after losing all but one-half of a seven-game lead it had in the NL Central on September 20 due to a seven-game losing streak.
"A lot of people were down on us, especially with the month of September we had," Eckstein said. "We stuck together as a team and we knew if we could get out there and get healthy and just play our game, we had a chance to win. We were not going to be dominating but we were going to find a way to win and we were able to do it."
"We shocked the world," St. Louis center fielder Jim Edmonds said.
But the Cardinals were a different team in the postseason. They beat San Diego in four games, then took out the New York Mets in seven games in the NLCS. They completed their surprising run against the Tigers, the biggest surprise in baseball this season.
"From the first game in San Diego they made so much noise. They believed in themselves," St. Louis general manager Walt Jocketty said. "We got to San Diego, got everybody back on the field, had Carp on the mound and we did it."
Weaver, who was acquired from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim after being put on waivers in July, had not pitched more than six innings in any of his last nine starts. But he braved the elements and allowed two runs - one earned - and four hits with one walk and nine strikeouts.
"I'm thankful that Tony La Russa and (pitching coach) Dave Duncan believed in my stuff," Weaver said. "You have to believe in yourself, knowing that you're going to work through it. Keep working, never say die."
Rookie Adam Wainwright pitched around a double and walk for the save. He struck out Brandon Inge with runners on the corners to end it, setting off a wild celebration.
Weaver surrendered a two-run homer to Sean Casey in the fourth inning, one pitch after right fielder Duncan dropped a routine fly ball, allowing Detroit to take a 2-1 lead.
But St. Louis came right back in its half. After a pair of one-out singles by Molina and So Taguchi, Verlander fielded a sacrifice attempt by Weaver. He easily had Molina at third but threw wildly past third baseman Inge, allowing Molina to score and putting runners on second and third.
"When I picked up the ball and threw it to third I was thinking don't throw it away instead of just picking it up and throwing it which isn't the thought you want in your mind," Verlander said. "It wasn't in the game plan. I couldn't believe I did that. I just messed up."
Eckstein followed by hitting a hard one-hopper to shortstop, scoring Taguchi for a 3-2 edge.
Two innings later, Duncan badly misplayed a hard line drive struck by Casey to the warning track. After turning the wrong way, the ball hit off Duncan's glove for a double.
"I made mistakes in the outfield but everyone kept me positive," Duncan said. "It seems like every time something happens somebody picks the other guy up."
This time it was Weaver, who struck out Ivan Rodriguez on three pitches.
St. Louis increased the edge to 4-2 when Scott Rolen blooped a single to right with two outs in the seventh. Rolen's hit scored Eckstein, who led off with a base hit off Fernando Rodney.
Despite his error, Verlander (1-2) pitched well, yielding three runs - one earned - and six hits in six innings. He walked three, struck out four and escaped a 35-pitch first inning unscathed after allowing three walks and two wild pitches.
St. Louis took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Eckstein hit a broken-bat grounder right over the third base bag. Inge made a diving backhanded stop, but his throw was well wide of first base, allowing Molina to score from third. Molina led off the frame with a base hit and advanced on a pair of sacrifices.
Inge compounded that mistake with a baserunning blunder in the second. He doubled with one out, but was then thrown out in a rundown when Verlander hit a comebacker to the mound. The next hitter, Curtis Granderson, singled to center.
For the Tigers, who were trying for its first championship since 1984, the series was symbolized by errors and a lack of hitting. Detroit made eight errors, leading to eight unearned runs and hit just .191. The Tigers needed a win to get the series back to Detroit.
"We didn't want to go back to Detroit," Cardinals outfielder Preston Wilson said. "I don't think anybody brought a suitcase to the clubhouse."
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