ST. LOUIS -- The weekend at Busch Stadium actually ended on a weekday for the Texas Rangers, as their Sunday Night Baseball game was delayed by rain for nearly three hours and ended well after midnight.
The final outcome was well worth the wait.
Leonys Martin and Ian Kinsler had RBI singles in the seventh inning, and Nick Tepesch and four relievers allowed only seven hits as the Rangers finished off a three-game sweep of St. Louis with a 2-1 victory.
Joe Nathan, working on a fourth consecutive day, finished off the Cardinals with his 25th save of the season in 26 attempts.
The win was the Rangers’ fifth straight and gave them sole possession of first place in the American League West as they enter their first off day since June 3. They wrapped up a stretch of 20 games in 20 days with a 9-11 record, which rates as somewhat remarkable after losing six straight at one point.
Tepesch and Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright, already a 10-game winner, kept hitters largely silent through five innings. Tepesch didn’t allow his first hit until the fifth, and the Rangers had managed only three singles before finally pushing a base runner into scoring position in the sixth.
St. Louis broke through first as former TCU start Matt Carpenter opened the Cardinals’ sixth with his sixth homer of the season, and Tepesch lasted only four more batters before Robbie Ross was summoned for the final out.
It looked like the Rangers would go quickly in the seventh as Wainwright retired the first two batters before yielding a double to David Murphy.
Martin saw Wainwright pump in two quick strikes against him, but worked a full count before lining a single through the middle for the equalizer.
Wainwright was done, and the Rangers appeared to done in the seventh, too, when pinch-hitter Jurickson Profar sent a soft liner toward shortstop Pete Kozma. But the ball squirted out of his glove and fell to the ground for an error, and Kinsler jumped on a 2-0 fastball from Trevor Rosenthal to drive in Martin.
Neal Cotts and Tanner Scheppers each worked a scoreless inning to get the ball to Nathan in the ninth. He allowed consecutive with one out to push the tying run to second base, but Kozma lined into a double play to end it.
-- Jeff Wilson