Clutch Cruz lifts rallying Rangers to win in ninth

Clutch Cruz lifts rallying Rangers to win in ninth

ST. LOUIS -- There was no déjà vu all over again at Busch Stadium on Friday night. This time Nelson Cruz delivered the game-winning hit, and closer Joe Nathan closed it out after David Murphy ran down the last fly ball when Carlos Beltran hit one to the warning track in the bottom of the ninth.

There was also Derek Holland, overcoming a rough start and keeping the night from being a disaster right from the beginning. Instead, the Rangers, down three runs after one inning, emerged victorious in their return to St. Louis with a 6-4 win over the Cardinals. The Rangers have won four of their last five after snapping a six-game losing streak.

"It was a great team win," Murphy said. "The last few weeks things haven't really meshed for us like it did tonight. It was just a great team win. We had a great series against Oakland [winning three of four], and it carried over. We just have to keep it going."

The game was tied at 4 in the ninth before the Rangers took advantage of some Cardinals mistakes and Cruz put them ahead with a two-run single. Neal Cotts earned his fourth win after squeezing out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth during the Rangers' first game at Busch since the 2011 World Series.

"The Cardinals obviously have an outstanding ballclub," Nathan said. "To come out and get a win, especially Derek doing an unbelievable job ... great adjustment by him. To make an adjustment like that, then go out and deal for five innings, that's a heckuva job."

"I just thought it was great to be able to stay focused and not let what happened in the first inning affect the rest of the game," Holland said.

Ian Kinsler led off the ninth-inning rally with a single to center off Cardinals reliever Trevor Rosenthal, and Elvis Andrus followed by dropping a sacrifice bunt. Rosenthal fielded the ball, but his throw to first was off-target to second baseman Matt Carpenter. The ball arrived just as Andrus did, and his shoulder smacked into Carpenter's glove. The ball got away, Andrus was safe, and Kinsler bolted for third.

"I was just running," Andrus said. "I wasn't trying to do anything else. I was just being aggressive running to first base, get on base and make things happen. It was good for us."

That brought up Cruz, and Rosenthal let go a wild pitch, allowing Andrus to go to second while Kinsler stayed at third. Cruz, with the infield playing in, then bounced a single up the middle to bring home both runs. Cruz was 2-for-5 on the night, including an RBI single in a four-run second inning, and is 5-for-14 in three games since being moved into the third spot in the order.

"It's nice to have him there," manager Ron Washington said. "He's our big RBI guy, and I finally had the guts to put him there."

The Rangers still had three outs to get in the ninth. Nathan got the first two easily and then walked Carpenter. That brought up Beltran, who has 17 home runs on the season. He launched one to deep left-center, but Murphy ran it down on the warning track to end the game.

"I didn't think it was gone, but I thought I might be facing another hitter," Nathan said. "I didn't think we had a tied game, but I thought it was about to get interesting and the crowd would be really into it. A great job by Murph. It was like a quarterback throwing a long pass and wondering if the receiver was going to get to it. It was fun to watch."

Holland was fun for the Rangers to watch after he got through the first couple of innings. He let the first four hitters reach base on three doubles and a walk and found himself trailing, 3-0, before getting anybody out. He also allowed a run in the second inning but then turned it completely around. Holland retired 18 of the last 20 batters he faced before Jurickson Profar pinch-hit for him in the eighth.

"All I did was stay under control and not get so much of the plate as I had been," Holland said.

"No, he was just getting on the corners," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "He was making, I'm assuming, pitches more over the plate early the way the guys were taking swings. So he did what he had to do. He's a competitor. He doesn't give in. He keeps coming at guys, and that's exactly what he did."

Holland also contributed on the offensive side when the Rangers rallied for four runs in the top of the second against Cardinals starter Tyler Lyons.

A.J. Pierzynski and Mitch Moreland started the inning with a pair of doubles to drive home one run. Lyons retired the next two hitters but then kept the rally alive by walking Holland, who was 0-for-10 with five strikeouts and a walk prior to that at-bat.

"Some of the guys were getting on me about my swing," Holland said. "The main thing was to see as many pitches as possible and get the pitcher's pitch-count up. I just got lucky."

Lyons also walked Kinsler, then gave up a two-run single to Andrus. After Joe Kelly replaced Lyons, Cruz grounded a hit through the left side to bring home the go-ahead run.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for 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.