SPORTS

Cardinals, Rangers get Wednesday night MLB playoff victories

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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The St. Louis Cardinals piled on four runs in the first inning and clung on to edge the Milwaukee Brewers 4-3 and take a 2-1 lead in the National League Championship Series.

Cardinals outfielder John Jay's first-inning RBI double helped St. Louis to an early lead. (Photo: Associated Press)

Albert Pujols hit an RBI double during the first for the Cardinals, who crept closer to a World Series appearance that was unthinkable when they were a long way out of the playoff picture before a late-season surge.

In a matchup of aces, neither St. Louis' Chris Carpenter nor Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo made it past the fifth inning. The one-run lead Carpenter handed over to the bullpen was just enough, as four relievers combined for four perfect innings.

Jason Motte got four outs for this save and struck out pinch hitter Casey McGehee to end it.

Carpenter won his seventh postseason game to tie Bob Gibson's franchise record, but with none of the brilliance of his shutout over the favored Phillies in the deciding game of the division series. He lasted only five innings, with nearly half of his 89 pitches for balls.

The Cardinals went through the entire batting order in the first against Gallardo, who often struggles against St. Louis. He trailed 2-0 after his first 12 pitches and barely made it out of the first trailing 4-0. He walked three, one of them intentional, and the Brewers had Chris Narveson warming up in the bullpen before the inning ended when Yadier Molina grounded into a double play, scoring the fourth run. Gallardo trudged to the dugout after his 33-pitch ordeal.

Jon Jay and David Freese hit RBI doubles in the first for St. Louis, which was 3 for 4 with runners in scoring position in the first inning but 0 for 7 over the rest of the game, hitting into three double plays and stranding nine runners.

Luckily for the Brewers, Carpenter didn't have his "A'' game, either. He issued a walk and a hit batsman in the Brewers' first three plate appearances.

Carpenter escaped thanks partly to a mistake by Milwaukee's Mark Kotsay, who strayed too far off second base on Prince Fielder's lineout to center and was caught out by Jay's strong throw to end the inning.

But Carpenter didn't look comfortable in the second or third, either.

The Brewers opened the second with three straight singles with Yuniesky Betancourt getting the RBI. Gallardo added a sacrifice fly that cut the deficit to 4-2.

ALCS Game 4: Texas 7, Detroit 3

DETROIT (AP) — Nelson Cruz made a rocket throw to keep the score tied, then hit a three-run homer in the 11th inning that gave the Texas Rangers a 7-3 win over the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday and a 3-1 lead in the American League Championship Series.

The Rangers moved within one win of a place in the World Series thanks largely to Cruz, who backed up the grand slam winner he hit in Game 2 by producing two vital moments in Game 4.

In the bottom of the eighth, with Detroit runners at the corner bases, one out, and the score 3-3, Cruz caught a fly ball in right field and made a strong and accurate throw to home where catcher Mike Napoli tagged Miguel Cabrera rushing in from third to end the inning.

Napoli hit a go-ahead single in the 11th and Cruz then hit a three-run shot into the bullpen in left field to complete the scoring. Cruz became the first player in major league history to hit a pair of extra-inning homers in the same postseason series.

Texas will try for its second consecutive AL pennant on Thursday, sending C.J. Wilson to the mound to face Detroit ace Justin Verlander.

The ALCS has marked quite a turnaround for Cruz. After going just 1 for 15 in the first-round playoff win over Tampa Bay, he's 5 for 14 with 9 RBIs in only four games against the Tigers — and seven of those RBIs have come in the 11th inning alone.

The teams waited through a rain delay of 2 hours, 13 minutes before the first pitch and there was misty rain floating around through the early innings.

Miguel Cabrera hit a two-run double in the third to put Detroit ahead, but Texas scored three times in the sixth.

Brandon Inge tied it for the Tigers with a stunning homer off Alexi Ogando in the seventh. Inge struggled against right-handed pitchers all year, not hitting a single homer in 171 at-bats, but he changed that by lifted a high drive beyond left field that made it 3-3.

Detroit wasted a terrific chance to take the lead in the eighth following some risky Texas strategy.

With one out and nobody on, the Rangers intentionally walked Cabrera, daring the rest of the struggling Detroit lineup to beat them.

Victor Martinez followed with a single to right and Cabrera lumbered around to third.

Delmon Young then lift a flyball to medium right. Cruz caught it and made a perfect, one-hop throw to the plate that beat Cabrera by several feet. Cabrera bowled over Napoli, to no avail. Napoli held onto the ball and Cabrera never touched the plate.

Austin Jackson was hit by a pitch with one out in the Detroit 10th, but Napoli threw him out stealing, and reliever Scott Feldman made it through the inning without further trouble.

Tigers closer Jose Valverde had already pitched a perfect 10th, but he couldn't hold off Texas for another inning. Napoli's single scored Josh Hamilton to put the Rangers ahead and then came Cruz's big shot that all but ended the contest.

Texas closer Neftali Feliz shut down Detroit in the bottom of the 11th and moved the Rangers closer to another World Series shot.

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