By Drew Davison
ARLINGTON – One win is all that separates the Texas Rangers from their first world championship.
Mike Napoli broke an eighth-inning tie with a two-run double, the bullpen threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings and the Rangers held on for a 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 5 of the World Series on Monday night at Rangers Ballpark.
Texas won a pivotal game in the best-of-seven series to take a 3-2 lead. The series heads back to St. Louis with Game 6 scheduled for 7:05 Wednesday at Busch Stadium. Colby Lewis starts for the Rangers, while Jaime Garcia goes for the Cardinals.
The team that wins Game 5 in a 2-2 series has gone on to win the Fall Classic 65.9 percent of the time.
With the game tied 2-2 going into the eighth, Michael Young singled off Cardinals reliever Octavio Dotel. Adrian Beltre struck out, and then the Cardinals intentionally walked Nelson Cruz.
St. Louis then went for the lefty-lefty matchup with David Murphy up, bringing in Marc Rzepczynski. Murphy, though, came through with an infield single to load the bases.
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa stuck with Rzepczynski against Napoli, who has great career numbers vs. lefties. And Napoli showed why, sending a two-run double to right-center field.
Those proved to be the deciding runs in Game 5.
Trailing 2-0 after the second inning, the Rangers evened the game with a pair of solo home runs.
In the third, Mitch Moreland, who entered the game 2 for 23 in the postseason, belted a homer into the home run porch in rightfield. In the sixth, Beltre drilled one into the leftfield seats.
That was enough to make up for the runs Rangers starter C.J. Wilson had allowed early.
After a crisp eight-pitch first inning, Wilson – and the Rangers defense – struggled in the second. He issued consecutive walks to Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman, who was down 0-2 to start his at-bat.
Wilson retired David Freese on a fly out, but then gave up an RBI single to Yadier Molina. Murphy didn’t field the ball cleanly in leftfield, allowing Berkman to advance to third on the play. Berkman scored on Skip Schumaker’s chopper to first after Moreland bobbled the ball.
Wilson threw 30 pitches in the inning, and labored through the third, too.
Rafael Furcal reached on an infield single, went to second on a throwing error by Wilson and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Allen Craig. After an intentional walk to Albert Pujols, Wilson ended the threat by inducing an inning-ending double play grounder by Holliday.
In the fifth, Wilson ran into trouble again. Schumaker led off with a single, and then Wilson walked Cardinals No. 9 hitter Nick Punto on four pitches. Furcal’s sacrifice bunt put the runners at second and third followed by Wilson striking out Craig and intentionally walking Pujols.
In what might have been his biggest at-bat in a Rangers uniform, Wilson escaped the jam by getting Holliday to groundout.
Wilson started the sixth, striking out Berkman. Freese then singled, ending Wilson’s night. He went 5 1/3 innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits with five walks (two intentional) and three strikeouts.
Rangers right-hander Scott Feldman came in, and got out of the sixth.
In the seventh, the Rangers turned to Alexi Ogando. Ogando issued a one-out walk to Craig, who was caught stealing with Pujols up. The Rangers intentionally walked Pujols, but Holliday singled to center and the runners advanced to second and third on a throw home.
Ogando then intentionally walked Berkman, and got out of the bases-loaded jam by flying out Freese.
Ogando and Darren Oliver worked a scoreless eighth, and Neftali Feliz closed it out.
Feliz hit Craig with a pitch to start the inning, but then struck Pujols out. And Napoli gunned down Craig, who was going to second on the play, for the second time on the night. Feliz walked Holliday, and then ended the game by striking out Berkman.