x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Checkmate for La Russa and St Louis in sixth

Tony La Russa continues to make all the right moves for St Louis, his sixth-inning decision to pinch-hit for his ace pitcher, Chris Carpenter, paying off when pinch-hitter Allen Craig delivers the game-winning single.

ST LOUIS // Every move by Tony La Russa worked to perfection in Game 1 of the 2011 World Series as the St Louis Cardinals manager used most of his roster in a 3-2 victory over the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night.

La Russa pulled his ace pitcher, Chris Carpenter, for a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning, and it paid off when Allen Craig delivered what turned out to be the winning run with a single that fell just inches out of the reach of Texas's sliding right fielder, Nelson Cruz. It was a game perfectly suited for La Russa - lots of bunts, intentional walks and pitching changes.

And in a post-season in which he has made all the right moves, the man who has spent more than half of his 67 years as a big-league manager was at the top of his game.

"It's going to be interesting to see how it plays out," the Cardinals outfielder Lance Berkman said.

"I feel like we have to win the National League-style games if we're going to win this thing, and tonight was a National League-style game - 3-2, good pitching, good defence, timely hitting.

"I don't think that we want to get into a [home-run hitting] series with these guys."

La Russa used 17 of his 25 players, including six pitchers. The key sequence came in the bottom of the sixth inning. The score was tied 2-2 when the Rangers starter CJ Wilson worked around the eighth-place hitter Nick Punto with a four-pitch walk that put runners on first and third with two outs.

Craig missed two fastballs, then hit a drive toward the right-field line. Cruz tried to make a sliding catch, but the ball bounced just before it reached him and thudded off his left leg for an RBI single. "It was close," Cruz said.

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