ARLINGTON, Texas — Matt Carpenter almost homered and almost got picked off in the same decisive inning that pushed the St. Louis Cardinals to their first victory over Texas since the 2011 World Series.
Carpenter was initially given a two-run homer in the fifth inning after his opposite-field shot that hit the wide pad atop the 14-foot wall in left field, bounced up and came back down into the field of play. That was changed to an RBI double on replay review after the Rangers challenged the call, but still ignited a five-run outburst.
“That was big … let’s figure out a way, able to break through and have a big inning,” manager Mike Shildt said. “It was a big hit, but more importantly we were able to do something with it.”
Ariel Jurado (1-2) had Carpenter picked off after the overturned call in the fifth, but second baseman Rougned Odor dropped the ball for an error. The Rangers starter was done after walking the next batter.
Paul DeJong, who later homered and had a season-high four RBIs, then greeted reliever Jeanmar Gomez with a two-run double into the left field corner that made it 4-0. After another walk, Jose Martinez had an RBI single and a groundout by Yadier Molina sent home another run.
“That’s kind of our identity as an offence, be able to grind out at-bats, take advantage of the mistakes,” DeJong said.
“Obviously, that fifth inning was the big one,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “We just couldn’t seem to stop the bleeding. They hit a couple balls hard but also ground balls found holes. … A little unfortunate.”
DeJong drove in the first St. Louis run with a groundout in the third after a wild pitch and a throwing error by the Rangers. His solo homer in the ninth was his eighth of the season.
Cardinals rookie right-hander Dakota Hudson (3-3) struck out five and allowed two runs over six innings.
The Cardinals had lost seven regular season games in a row against Texas since their World Series title eight years ago, when DeJong was a freshman in college. They were swept in three-game home series in 2013 and 2016, and lost the opener of this series Friday night.
More recently, St. Louis had lost three in a row and 12 of 15 games this season after an 18-win April. The Rangers had scored 29 runs in a three-game winning streak.
Thunderstorms with heavy rain delayed the start of Saturday’s scheduled midafternoon game by 2 hours, 11 minutes. There was no more rain until the game finished in a downpour that started when the Rangers were batting in the ninth.
Ronald Guzman led off the Rangers fifth with a single and scored on a double by Isiah Kiner-Falefa before he later came home on a groundout by Willie Calhoun , who has six RBIs in four games since being called up by the Rangers earlier in the week.
“He’s had really quality at-bats ever since he got here.” Woodward said of Calhoun, who has hits in all four games.
LONG, LONG TIME
The series opener was the first regular-season game in Arlington for the Cardinals since June 13, 2004 — a gap of 5,451 games. According to Elias, that had been the longest active gap in MLB, and the fifth-longest since interleague play began in 1997. … The Cardinals still have more post-season wins (four) than regular-season wins (three) against Texas.
Rangers: SS Danny Santana was hit by a fastball on his right ankle when batting in the ninth inning. He was lifted for a pinch-runner before Guzman grounded into a game-ending double play. Woodward said X-rays were negative and that Santana has a bruised ankle.
Cardinals: RHP Jack Flaherty (4-3, 4.34 ERA), the Cardinals’ first-round draft pick in 2014, is 2-8 with a 4.94 ERA in 16 career starts when facing an opponent for the first time.
Rangers: LHP Drew Smyly (0-3, 6.85) is still looking for his first MLB win since 2016, before his Tommy John surgery in July 2017. He has never pitched against St. Louis.