ST. LOUIS -- The Texas Rangers considered the St. Louis Cardinals difficult to defeat and easy to respect.
That was largely because the Rangers, who recorded seven come-from-behind victories in the postseason, recognized their own relentlessness in the National League champions who captured the World Series by winning Friday night's Game 7, 6-2.
"Hats off to the Cards. They did a great job, especially the last month," said Rangers center fielder Josh Hamilton, referring to the Cardinals' surge that earned them the NL Wild Card berth despite trailing Atlanta by 10 1/2 games on Aug. 25. "To do what they did was pretty special. It actually was fun to watch and fun to see. You hate that they beat you, but at the same time, you're happy for them.
"I think we got the feeling that most teams felt during the season when they played us."
That feeling grew on the Rangers after they returned to St. Louis with a 3-2 Series lead. The Cardinals' 10-9, 11-inning victory in Thursday night's classic Game 6 left an indelible impression on the Rangers, who still were reeling from that dizzying experience as they struggled to recover for Game 7.
"What they were able to pull off [Thursday] night was pretty incredible," Rangers first baseman Michael Young said, referring to St. Louis' multiple comebacks in Game 6 while twice teetering one strike away from defeat.
"We all know we lost the Series [Thursday]," third baseman Adrian Beltre said. "We shouldn't have let it slip away. We came back today to try to win it, but the momentum just took them, and they won it."
Texas right fielder Nelson Cruz felt that same surge, especially after St. Louis ignored the two runs Texas scored in Game 7's first inning. "They're true champions," he said. "They came back from behind twice. They played better baseball than us."
That was noticeable in clutch situations. Texas outhit the Cardinals, .254 to .243, but batted just .218 (12-for-55) with runners in scoring position.
"You have to give credit to their pitching staff. It's a group of guys who get stronger when runners get in scoring position," Rangers outfielder David Murphy said.
Murphy reserved special praise for St. Louis ace Chris Carpenter, who posted a 2-0 record with a 2.84 ERA in three Series starts. "He's definitely a bulldog," Murphy said.
Hamilton praised Carpenter for thriving Friday on three days' rest. Said Hamilton, "He wasn't overpowering. He just moved the ball. He can sink it, cut it, [use] a little arm-side run, and he has a slower curveball. He did a good job mixing up his pitches up."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.