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WS2011 Gm1: Beltre's groundout appears to hit off foot

ST. LOUIS -- Adrian Beltre thought it was a foul ball. Home-plate umpire Jerry Layne decided otherwise, and no amount of arguing from manager Ron Washington could change his mind.

"It hit my foot and the umpire didn't see it," Beltre said in the Rangers' somber clubhouse afterward.

That ninth-inning argument was about all the fight the Rangers could muster on a wet, cold Wednesday night at Busch Stadium. Texas never really got its bats going against Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter, or five relievers, and dropped the first game of the World Series with a 3-2 loss.

"It's tough," Nelson Cruz said. "I don't think we did the job. When we have men in scoring position, we need to get it done. We didn't do the job tonight. That won't happen the whole series. We'll come back tomorrow and be ready to take care of business. We've done that all year, and we'll do it again."

Mike Napoli hit a two-run home run for the Rangers, but they were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. The Cards were 2-for-9, and those were the two big hits of the night: a two-run single by Lance Berkman in the fourth off losing pitcher C.J. Wilson and a go-ahead single by pinch-hitter Allen Craig in sixth against reliever Alexi Ogando.

The Rangers are now trying to be the first team since the 1992 Blue Jays to lose Game 1 on the road and come back to win the World Series. Since '93, every home team that won Game 1 ended up winning the Series, including the Giants last year against the Rangers.

"Whenever you have an opportunity to win a game at home, it's important that you go ahead and do that," Berkman said. "We put ourselves in a position to win, and if somehow you let them come back and win that game, psychologically it's tough. On top of the fact that if you let them steal one here from you at home, you've got to go to their place."

Rangers batters managed just six hits on the night. They also had one single and one walk in the final three innings against the Cardinals' bullpen.

"They made pitches when they had to -- that was pretty much it," Rangers first baseman Michael Young said. "Carpenter looked sharp and their bullpen threw well. Both sides made pitches; it's as simple as that. One run was the difference. We'll come back ready to play tomorrow."

Wilson took the loss, allowing three runs in 5 2/3 innings. He allowed four hits but walked six and hit Albert Pujols on the left foot to set up a two-run fourth inning for the Cards. The left-hander is now 0-3 with a 7.17 ERA in four starts this postseason.

"I thought C.J. did a good job tonight," Washington said. "Yep, he may have walked some guys and he hit Albert, but he was in a 2-2 game and he was battling Carpenter. As far as I'm concerned, it was a pretty good ballgame and C.J. did his job."

Carpenter and Wilson were scoreless through three. Then Wilson hit Pujols to lead off the fourth and that started trouble. Matt Holliday followed with a double into the right-field corner, putting runners on second and third, and Berkman bounced a single down the right-field line past Young to score both runs.

Napoli's two-run home run in the fifth tied the score. But that was it for the Rangers' offense on the night, and the Cardinals struck back in the sixth. David Freese got the rally started with a one-out double to right-center. Wilson struck out Yadier Molina but also threw a wild pitch in the process, allowing Freese to go to third.

That brought up Nick Punto with Carpenter on deck, and Texas had Ogando warming up in the bullpen. Punto entered the game hitting .143 (3-for-21) in the postseason, but he had hit a single in the third and been intentionally walked in the fourth.

"The plan was not to give in," Wilson said. "I knew Carpenter was up next, or a pinch-hitter, with Ogando warming up. I had confidence he was going to come in and get the next guy if he had to."

Wilson walked Punto on four pitches, and St. Louis manager Tony La Russa decided to pinch-hit Craig, a right-handed hitter, for Carpenter. Washington countered with Ogando, but the Cards won the exchange. Craig lined a single down the right-field line as Cruz couldn't come up with a sliding catch, allowing Freese to score.

"I thought I had a good chance," Cruz said. "I slid, but I think I got caught in the dirt and wasn't able to get there like I thought I would."

The Rangers were able to put together only one more threat. Right-hander Fernando Salas took over for Carpenter in the seventh and Texas got something going. Cruz singled with one out and Napoli walked. La Russa then brought in left-hander Marc Rzepczynski to face David Murphy. Washington countered with right-handed pinch-hitter Craig Gentry, and Rzepczynski struck him out.

Washington then sent up Esteban German, another right-handed hitter who had not yet come to bat in the playoffs. La Russa had right-hander Octavio Dotel throwing in the bullpen but stayed with Rzepczynski, who struck out German on three pitches to end the inning.

St. Louis pitchers ended up retiring the last eight batters they faced on three strikeouts, two weak grounders back to the pitcher, two routine fly balls and the ninth-inning grounder to third that Beltre insisted was foul because it hit off his foot in the batter's box. It was just another frustrating moment for the Rangers' offense against Cardinals pitching.

"It was a great performance," La Russa said. "They're a great hitting team. If you don't make a lot of pitches, they're going to bang you around. The thing about Carp, he was exactly what we needed." Comments