ST. LOUIS -- Rougned Odor started the ninth inning with a hard grounder to Matt Adams. The Cardinals first baseman bobbled the ball for a second, closer Trevor Rosenthal was a step late covering the bag and Odor busted his tail to first base. He was safe.
"You know I am always going to run hard and try to be safe at first base," Odor said.
That was the pivotal play that started the rally. When it was over, the Rangers had pulled off an improbable comeback and a 4-3 victory on Saturday afternoon at Busch Stadium.
"This was a great win against a good ballclub," said winning pitcher Shawn Tolleson, who along with Cesar Ramos and Jake Diekman gave the Rangers 4 2/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen.
The Rangers have won five straight and 19 of their last 24 games. They are also 15-4 in one-run games and have won nine straight series, a club record.
"That was a good one ... well played all around," outfielder Ian Desmond said. "It takes a team effort to win one-run games, big team character, and this team is not short in that."
The Rangers were able to win this game despite going 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. That speaks to how well Texas did at manufacturing runs in the final two innings. The Cardinals were 33-0 when leading after eight innings before the Rangers pulled off this comeback.
"That's why we're in first place," outfielder Shin-Soo Choo said. "We don't give up."
The Rangers managed just four singles in seven innings against Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez and trailed 3-0 going into the eighth. Cardinals reliever Seung Hwan Oh retired the first two batters in the eighth, but then the Rangers came alive.
A single by Choo and a double by Desmond put runners at second and third. A wild pitch scored one run, and another came across when Adams fumbled Nomar Mazara's grounder for an error.
When Tolleson shut down the Cardinals in the bottom of the inning, the Rangers were in position for a ninth-inning comeback, and it started with Odor beating out what was ruled a single.
"That's why we run hard," manager Jeff Banister said. "We talk about the identity of our ballclub. We run hard and put pressure on the defense. If they give you a crack, you can be safe ... never bigger than in that moment."
The baserunning didn't stop there. Jurickson Profar singled to left, putting runners at first and second. Robinson Chirinos went up to bunt and missed a 1-0 pitch. But the ball popped out of catcher Yadier Molina's glove and both runners moved up to second and third.
"Big baserunning play right there," Banister said.
Rosenthal then hit Chirinos with a pitch, loading the bases. Left-hander Kevin Siegrist took over and retired Ryan Rua on a pop to center, keeping the bases loaded and setting up another pivotal moment. Choo was up for a lefty vs. lefty matchup against Siegrist. Left-handed hitters were hitting .207 off him this year.
Siegrist threw eight straight fastballs from 94-96 mph. Choo worked the count full while fouling three pitches, and he then took ball four just off the outside corner. The tying run scored.
"The pitcher and the hitter were both nervous," Choo said. "I was focused on every pitch."
Desmond followed with a drive to deep left on which Tommy Pham, just called up Saturday, made a nice running catch, and Profar came home with the go-ahead run. Diekman finished the job in the ninth inning.
"You can chalk this one to a great team effort," Banister said. "Great job by the position players, and a great job by the bullpen."
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.