ARLINGTON -- This time, scoring runs was not the problem for the Rangers. They were finally able to mount some offense in a World Series.Their problem was their offense came around on a night when everything else came completely apart, especially the bullpen, and the Cardinals are now up two games to one in the Fall Classic after Albert Pujols carried them to 16-7 victory in Game 3 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Saturday night. Pujols became the third player in Major League history to homer three times in a World Series game, joining Reggie Jackson and Babe Ruth.
"It's a loss," Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "It's a difficult loss, but we have tomorrow. We just have to come out and play better tomorrow."The Rangers will try to bounce back in Game 4 on Sunday, with Derek Holland pitching against Edwin Jackson for the Cardinals. But they will also have to put back together a bullpen that allowed as many runs in one night as it had in 12 previous playoff games. "This is one of those games you want to forget," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "They played well, we have to put this in the past, come out tomorrow and play better." Pujols was 5-for-6 with three home runs and six RBIs as the Cardinals scored the second-most runs by one team in a World Series contest. The Yankees still hold the record with an 18-4 victory over the Giants in 1936, but this was also the third-highest-scoring game in Series history behind the Blue Jay's 15-14 win over the Phillies in 1993 and a 14-11 game in the 1997 Series between the Marlins and Indians.
"We got beat tonight," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "They swung the lumber, and there wasn't much we could do about it. I don't know what combination I could have used to stop them. We just couldn't stop them. We fought, we didn't give in to the ballgame. We kept fighting. We kept trying to get back in it. But it was just a little too much for us tonight."The Cardinals, with the help of a controversial call and first baseman Mike Napoli's throwing error, scored four in the fourth to take a 5-0 lead. The Rangers twice mounted comebacks that appeared to get them back in the game, only to have the Cardinals' offense respond with big innings of its own. The Redbirds, taking a 1-0 lead in the first on outfielder Allen Craig's home run off starter Matt Harrison, proved just as adept at winning an American League-style slugfest as the Rangers were in winning with pitching, defense and baserunning in the National League park. The Rangers' problem was that those three parts of the game that sparkled so brightly in Game 2 in Busch Stadium disintegrated on Saturday night at the Ballpark. Their bullpen especially took a beating. Harrison, lasted just 3 2/3 innings and gave up five runs. The Rangers might have been able to weather that, but the Cardinals scored 11 runs off of relievers Scott Feldman, Alexi Ogando, Mike Gonzalez and Darren Oliver. Rangers relievers had a 2.11 ERA -- allowing 11 runs in 47 innings -- over their first 12 playoff games before Saturday night's debacle. "It stinks," Feldman said. "We all wanted to keep the runs to a minimum when we put up runs. I was just trying to get us back in the dugout quickly. It didn't happen." Instead, the Rangers never could stop Pujols, who added his name to a pair of immortals with three blasts in a Fall Classic game. Pujols also had a pair of singles that led off the four-run fourth and a three-run fifth. He ended up setting a new World Series record with 14 total bases in one game. "With a guy like that, if you miss with your pitch just a little bit, he's going to get you," Oliver said. "He's a pretty good hitter." The Rangers trailed, 1-0, going into the fourth when Pujols led off with a single to left. Matt Holliday followed with a grounder at Andrus, who threw to Kinsler for the forceout, but the relay to first pulled Napoli off the bag to the inside. Napoli still tagged Holliday on the shoulder before he got to the bag, but first-base umpire Ron Kulpa called him safe. Kulpa said after the game that he missed the call, and the Rangers said afterward they didn't think it cost them the game. "It happens during the regular season, too, but you have to move past it," Napoli said. "We still had an opportunity to get off that field with maybe just one run across the plate," Washington said. "We just didn't make the plays. I mean, I don't think you can just start all of a sudden to make excuses about things." Instead, Lance Berkman followed with a single to right, and David Freese doubled down the right-field line, scoring Holliday. Yadier Molina was walked intentionally to load the bases and Jon Jay, with the infield in, then hit a chopper to Napoli. He threw to the plate, but it was off target, getting past catcher Yorvit Torrealba and allowing two runs to score. Ryan Theriot's single then gave the Cardinals a 5-0 lead. "I just ran into trouble in the fourth," Harrison said. "I felt I was making good pitches, but things didn't go our way, and they swung the bats well. It just all started unraveling." The Rangers, knocking out Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse, struck back with three in the bottom of the fourth on a leadoff home run by Michael Young and a two-run home run by Nelson Cruz. The Rangers had more chances to score, but with runners at the corners and one out, Kinsler flied out to left and Holliday gunned down Napoli trying to score from third. "He made a perfect throw," Napoli said. "You try to put pressure on the defense and make them make a bad throw, and he made a perfect throw." The Rangers were still within two, but Feldman could not keep it close. After another leadoff single by Pujols in the fifth, two walks, a run-scoring grounder and a two-run double by Molina brought home three more runs. That made it 8-3, and the Rangers again tried to get back in the game, scoring three against relievers Fernando Salas and Lance Lynn in their half of the fifth. They also had the bases loaded with two outs, but Lynn got Kinsler to pop out to end the threat. That's when Washington brought in Ogando to keep it close. Instead, the Cardinals scored four off him, including a three-run home run by Pujols. An error by Andrus brought home another run. The Cardinals ended up scoring in each of the last six innings as Pujols hit a two-run home run in the seventh and Mark Lowe gave up an RBI double in the eighth. Pujols hit his record-tying home run in the ninth. "We still have all the confidence in the world in our bullpen," Napoli said. "They just had a tough night but we'll come back and play better tomorrow."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.