Napoli's 2-run double gives Rangers Game 5
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- As they look ahead to Game 6 at Busch Stadium, maybe the Cardinals should avoid doing anything that might irritate Mike Napoli. Don't make eye contact or yell in his general direction. Might be a good idea to steer clear of the strike zone as well.
After Chris Carpenter screamed at Napoli earlier in the game, the Rangers' catcher got his revenge in the eighth inning with a tiebreaking two-run double off Marc Rzepczynski that pushed the Rangers past the Cardinals, 4-2, in World Series Game 5 Monday night. Napoli has nine RBIs in the first five games of the series and Texas stands one win away from its first world championship.
"We had the right guy up there tonight," said Michael Young, who started the eighth- inning rally with a leadoff double. "That was obviously a huge knock for us."
A day earlier, in Game 4, Napoli hit a three-run homer in the sixth that helped deliver a 4-0 win. As for what Carpenter shouted at him after Napoli flied out to the warning track with runners on first and third to end the sixth in Game 5, Napoli wouldn't say.
"It's unfortunate," he said, "but I don't want to pursue anything."
Tony La Russa said Rzepczynski wasn't supposed to be pitching to Napoli in the first place. But a problem with the bullpen phone -- they didn't hear the manager call for closer Jason Motte to get warm -- forced him to stick with the lefthander against Napoli with the bases loaded. That also explained why Lance Lynn came in for one batter, an intentional walk to Ian Kinsler, before he was pulled.
"When you say Motte, they heard Lynn," La Russa said. "It must be loud. I give the fans credit."
When Albert Pujols came up as the tying run in the ninth, St. Louis self-destructed. Pujols struck out swinging on a 3-and-2 fastball and Allen Craig, who had been hit by a pitch, was gunned down by Napoli as he tried to steal second.
It was the second time in three innings that Craig was thrown out attempting to steal second in a crucial spot. The Cardinals got the tying run to the plate again in the ninth against Neftali Feliz, but Lance Berkman struck out to end it.
Facing elimination in Game 6 Wednesday night at Busch Stadium, the Cardinals will be haunted by their squandered chances Monday night. They went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and stranded 12.
The Rangers were determined not to let Pujols beat them. They issued three intentional walks to him, twice with runners in scoring position. The last time a player was intentionally walked three times was 2002, when it happened to Barry Bonds in Game 4.
St. Louis built an early 2-0 lead against C.J. Wilson, but Carpenter eventually gave it back as Mitch Moreland took him deep in the third inning and Adrian Beltre homered to tie the score in the sixth.
Carpenter had a 2-1 lead and two outs in the sixth when up stepped Beltre, Texas' most dangerous hitter this series. Beltre took a 93-mph cutter for a called strike. But when Carpenter tried to trip him up with a 75-mph curve, Beltre dropped to one knee while drilling a tying home run into the leftfield seats, his fourth of the playoffs.
The Rangers nicked Carpenter for two more singles before Napoli took him to the warning track in centerfield. Carpenter yelled at Napoli on his way off the field and then fired his glove into the wall when he reached the dugout.
After Craig was cut down stealing for the second out in the seventh -- he was out by five feet -- Alexi Ogando intentionally walked Pujols and Matt Holliday followed with a single to center. Initially, Cardinals coach Jose Oquendo looked to be waving around Pujols. But he put up a late stop sign just in time to hold up Pujols, who halted about halfway down the baseline. After an intentional walk to Berkman, David Freese flied out.