Jason Motte stood in front of his locker in the quiet Cardinals clubhouse and said the same thing over and over: "I didn't do my job."
Three outs from taking a 2-0 World Series lead to Texas, St. Louis instead finds itself tied with the Rangers at a game apiece.
Motte allowed consecutive singles to open the ninth inning, and sacrifice flies by Josh Hamilton and Michael Young lifted the Rangers to a 2-1 victory Thursday night.
"It was almost a great story for us," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "Turned out to be a greater one for them."
In a virtual repeat of the opener, pinch-hitter Allen Craig put the Cardinals ahead with a seventh-inning single off Alexi Ogando.
St. Louis starter Jaime Garcia allowed three hits in seven shutout innings before Fernando Salas and former Toronto Blue Jays lefty Marc Rzepczynski combined for a hitless eighth. But a day after Motte finished off a 3-2 win with a 1-2-3 ninth, Ian Kinsler blooped a leadoff single to left, just beyond the reach of shortstop Rafael Furcal. Kinsler then stole second, narrowly beating Yadier Molina's throw.
"I mean, my hand just barely got in there. It took everything I had," Kinsler said. "Yadier made an unbelievable throw, quick, on the money, and I was just able to get my hand in there."
Elvis Andrus, who saved a run in the fifth with an amazing glove flip from shortstop, singled to centre for his first hit in seven at-bats in the Series. Kinsler took a wide turn, then retreated to third, and Andrus advanced when Jon Jay's throw got past cutoff man Albert Pujols.
"It stinks. It's one of those things," Motte said. "I went out there and made a good pitch to Kinsler, and he did a good piece of hitting and got enough on it to get it out of the reach of Furcal. The next one, I threw another cutter, and it just wasn't a good pitch. It moved, came back, just stayed middle and spun up there."
More than an hour after the game, the three official scorers decided to charge Pujols with an error.
"I should have made a better throw right there. It was the big part of the game," Jay said. "It was off-line a little bit."
After making all the right moves in the opener, La Russa brought in lefty Arthur Rhodes to face Hamilton, who is hitless in 16 consecutive World Series at-bats dating to Game 3 against San Francisco last year. La Russa decided against an intentional walk.
"Load the bases, that's a really difficult thing to do," La Russa said. "I don't think walking him there would have made it easier for us. I think it would have made it tougher."
Hamilton, the reigning American League MVP, drove home Kinsler with a fly to right.
"It would have been a grounder if I would have kept it down," Rhodes said.
Lance Lynn relieved, and Young hit a fly to centre that scored Andrus with the go-ahead run.
Good days, bad days
Motte took the loss, and Mike Adams got the win with a scoreless eighth. Neftali Feliz pitched the ninth for the save, walking Molina before striking out Nick Punto and Skip Schumaker. Furcal flied out to end it.
"It's baseball. That's the way this game is," Motte said. "You're going to have good days, bad days."
When the Series shifts to Texas on Saturday at 8:05 p.m. ET, Matt Harrison starts Game 3 for the Rangers against Kyle Lohse. Derek Holland goes for Texas in Game 4 on Sunday (8:05) and Edwin Jackson for the Cardinals.
While Pujols dropped to 0-for-6 in the Series and Matt Holliday fell to 1-for-6 (.167), David Freese sparked the Cardinals in the seventh when he singled with one out against Colby Lewis. Punto, the No. 8 batter, hit a single off the glove of Young — who played first only 36 times during the regular season.
That knocked out both starters, with Ogando coming in to face Craig for the second straight night.
Craig fouled off a pitch, then lined a single to right-centre that sent Freese home and energized a sellout crowd of 47,288 at Busch Stadium.
"Kind of deja vu," Craig said.
Two innings earlier, Furcal came up with two on and two outs and hit a one-hop smash to the shortstop side of second, but Andrus ranged over to make a diving stop. From his knees on the outfield grass, he flipped the ball with his glove to Kinsler, who just beat a sliding Garcia to second base.
"The play was ridiculous," Kinsler said. "It doesn't get any better than that."