Rosenthal in relief: Rookie gets win for CardinalsSt. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Joe Kelly reacts after striking out Boston Red Sox's Jacoby Ellsbury to end the top of the fifth inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Instead of a five-out save, Trevor Rosenthal got a win. It's a trade anyone would make in the World Series.
A big reason the St. Louis Cardinals have a 2-1 lead over the Boston Red Sox is the 23-year-old rookie, who got five outs and was plenty resilient. Rosenthal allowed two inherited runners to score, tying it in the eighth inning, and then retired the side in order in the ninth.
St. Louis scored a strange run on an obstruction call in the bottom of the ninth for a 5-4 victory Saturday night.
''Not sure how it happened,'' Rosenthal said. ''I just know that we won.''
The Cardinals used five pitchers 25 or younger in Game 3 and some of them showed some vulnerability. Others came up big.
The lone downside: Allen Craig's left foot was sore from sliding home on the final play. Craig's pinch-hit double was a key hit in the ninth.
''I don't want to jump to any conclusions about anything,'' said Craig, who returned for the Series from a sprained left foot that had sidelined him since early September. ''It's the first time I've had to run full speed and there was a little obstacle course going on there. Just one of those deals.''
Kolten Wong made a tough defensive stop at second base in the eighth on Daniel Nava's short-hop grounder that he nearly turned into an inning-ending double play. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was hoping that play didn't get overlooked from the 23-year-old Wong, a first-round draft pick in 2011 who could be the Cardinals' starting second baseman next season.
''Not an easy play, let alone coming right off the bench as you're initiated into the World Series,'' Matheny said.
Former 41st-round pick Kevin Siegrist worked a perfect inning
Setup man Carlos Martinez got one out in the eighth, leaving Rosenthal in a tough bind with the bases loaded. Seth Maness gave up the tying single to Nava in the sixth before getting a double-play ball to stop it there.
''I think we're all just such great competitors, and obviously the talent is there,'' Rosenthal said. ''I'm starting to believe, maybe, that we're just young and don't realize the stage that we're on.
''And hopefully we can stay that way, stay locked in.''
The Cardinals became the first team to use five pitchers 25 or younger in the postseason. They were the fourth to win consecutive World Series games with pitchers 23 or younger and the first since the 1981 Los Angeles Dodgers.
The end result, though certainly unique with a World Series game decided on an obstruction call for the first time, was another win at home, where the Cardinals have dominated all year. They have a chance to really take control with Lance Lynn (2-1, 5.40 ERA) facing Clay Buchholz (0-0, 5.40) in Game 4 on Sunday night.
The Cardinals are 6-1 at Busch Stadium in the postseason after going 54-27 during the regular season, second-best in the majors.
''You hate to see it end on a somewhat controversial play, but you know that's part of the game,'' said slugger Matt Holliday, who drove in three runs. ''You'd like to see it end a little cleaner, but it didn't.''
Rosenthal struck out the side to save Game 2 in Boston and doesn't need to fret about the blown save. He threw more than an inning 12 times during the regular season, six of the outings scoreless.
Holliday's two-run double in the seventh put the back end of the bullpen in perfect position with a 4-2 lead. It could have been a larger cushion.
The biggest missed opportunity came in the fourth when the Cardinals settled for loading the bases with none out instead of taking the run the Red Sox conceded. Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury threw to the infield on Jon Jay's single before third base coach Jose Oquendo gave Yadier Molina a stop sign, and St. Louis' 8-9-1 hitters combined for two popups and a strikeout.
Four of the first five batters singled in the first, the lone out on Carlos Beltran's first career sacrifice bunt, with RBIs from Holliday and Molina. The rally ended there with two runners stranded.
Holliday got hung up and then erased in the third after center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury dropped his shallow pop fly for an error. Jake Peavy sprinted to cover second to thwart Holliday's bid for two bases and the slugger was an easy out retreating to first.
Molina's RBI single in the first gave him a hit in six straight World Series games dating to Game 5 of the '11 Series. He is batting .478 (11 for 23) in that span.
Cardinals starter Joe Kelly, who allowed two runs and two hits in 5 1-3 innings, has worked at least five innings in all 19 regular-season and postseason starts.
The sellout crowd of 47,432 was the largest for a baseball game at 8-year-old Busch Stadium, surpassing the previous best of 47,345 on opening day this year. It wasn't the largest overall, however, with a soccer friendly matching Chelsea and Manchester City attracting more than 48,000 in May.