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Rangers edge Cardinals in return to Busch Stadium

The SportsXchange

ST. LOUIS -- For manager Ron Washington, winning Texas' first game at Busch Stadium since a Game 7 loss in the 2011 World Series wasn't that big a deal.

"Other than the fact it's on the schedule, it doesn't mean anything," he said of a 6-4 win over the St. Louis Cardinals Friday night. "That, and it's June 21."

Regardless of the date, though, Washington and his Rangers were pleased to win for the fourth time in five games and beat the team with the major leagues' best record.

Nelson Cruz's two-run single through a drawn-in infield in the top of the ninth inning snapped a 4-4 tie and made a winner out of Neal Cotts (4-1), who wriggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the eighth.

Ian Kinsler led off the ninth with a single off Trevor Rosenthal (1-1) and Elvis Andrus bunted him to second. Rosenthal's throw to first hit off Andrus' shoulder and then went in and out of Matt Carpenter's glove, rolling into the outfield grass as Kinsler took third.

After a wild pitch which moved Andrus to second, Cruz bounced a 2-2 offering up the middle for his 52nd and 53rd RBI of the year.

"Good team win, all the way around," said left fielder David Murphy. "All three phases of the game contributing."

Murphy authored the final contribution with a running catch of Carlos Beltran's liner on the warning track in left-center field for the 27th out, preserving Joe Nathan's 23rd save of the season.

The Cardinals (47-27) missed on a great chance with two outs in the eighth. Allen Craig singled -- their first hit since the second -- and Yadier Molina doubled, followed by an intentional walk to David Freese. But Cotts induced an inning-ending groundout from Jon Jay.

"If they score right there, we have to deal with their closer and who knows what happens then? Neal's been getting quality outs for us," Washington said.

It started off as a wild slugfest as neither starter -- St. Louis' Tyler Lyons or Texas' Derek Holland -- could miss bats consistently. The teams' first five hits were all doubles.

The Cardinals lit up Holland for three doubles in their first four hitters. Beltran drove in Carpenter with his two-bagger, while Allen Craig plated Beltran and Matt Holliday with his shot to the wall in left-center that made it 3-0.

But Lyons couldn't even make it out of the second, allowing an RBI double to Mitch Moreland and then a game-tying two-run single to Andrus. Reliever Joe Kelly promptly burped up Nelson Cruz's RBI single and the Rangers led 4-3.

It was the fourth straight rough start for Lyons, who won his first two starts at San Diego and Kansaas City and has allowed 18 runs in his last 18 2/3 innings over four outings. Lyons walked three in his 1 2/3 innings, the shortest outing for a St. Louis starter since John Gast left with an injury in the second inning on May 25 at the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"It was fastball command again," he said. "It's nothing wrong mechanically. You can't do the things I was doing tonight if you want to win. I felt good in the bullpen, but I was erratic after that."

Kelly worked five scoreless innings, scattering five hits and fanning three in a performance that could lead to him replacing Lyons in the rotation when the Cardinals need a fifth starter again.

St. Louis evened the score in its half of the second when Pete Kozma, who doubled to lead off the inning and moved to third on Kelly's sacrifice bunt, raced home on A.J. Pierzynski's passed ball.

Kozma's double was the last hit off Holland, who retired the final 12 men he faced, striking out the side in the seventh.

"It was nothing mechanical," Holland said of the difference between the first two innings and his last five. "I still attacked the hitters, but the difference was I threw strikes on the corners instead of the middle.

"After what happened early, I was proud that I gave our team seven innings and kept us in the game."

NOTES: Friday night's game started a stretch of 11 straight games against American League West opposition for St. Louis. After this weekend's series, it takes an eight-game road trip to Houston, Oakland and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim ... Texas will recall LHP Martin Perez to start Saturday night's game against St. Louis' Shelby Miller. The Rangers will push Nick Tepesch back to Sunday night and Yu Darvish to their series opener Tuesday night at the New York Yankees ... Lance Lynn's win Thursday night was the 41st by a Cardinal starter in 73 games, the most since the 2005 team received 41 wins from starting pitchers. The 1944 team still holds the club record with 43.
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