St. Louis, Missouri—ST. LOUIS (AP) — By the time David Freese stomped on home plate Game 6 had already been stamped among the greatest thrillers in baseball history.
Twice down to their last strike, the St. Louis Cardinals somehow rallied.
"You had to be here to believe it," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.
It was as great a game as the sport has ever witnessed, rivaling the Carlton Fisk homer in Game 6 of the 1975 Series and Bill Buckner's error in Game 6 of the 1986 Series.
Freese saved St. Louis with a two-strike, two-out, two-run triple off Rangers closer Neftali Feliz that tied it in the ninth. In the 10th, after Josh Hamilton had homered to give Texas a two-run lead, Lance Berkman's two-strike, two-out single made it 9-all.
To Freese, who grew up in the St. Louis area, it all reminded him of a game-ending home run Jim Edmonds hit in the 2004 playoffs.
"Growing up or whatever, and you see stuff like that happen, those become memories," Freese said.
Great, that is, except for Texas. The Rangers were that close to winning their first championship.
"I understand it's not over till you get that last out," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "I was just sitting there praying we got that last out. We didn't get it."
This was just the third time that a team one out from elimination in the World Series came back to win the game, according to STATS LLC. The New York Mets did it with Buckner's mistake and wound up winning the championship. In 1911, the New York Giants rallied past the Philadelphia A's in Game 5, but lost the next game.
Next up on Friday night, the first Game 7 in the World Series since the Angels beat San Francisco in 2002.
After it was over, La Russa wasn't willing to announce his starter for Game 7 — many believe it will be ace Chris Carpenter on three days' rest. Matt Harrison is set to start for Texas.
Home teams have won the last eight Game 7s in the World Series, a streak that started with the Cardinals beating Milwaukee in 1982.
"There is tomorrow, now, for us," Cardinals star Albert Pujols said.
Freese had already written himself into St. Louis lore with tying the triple.
"Initially I was like 'Are you kidding me? My first AB off Feliz in this situation ever,'" Freese said. "I just beared down, got a pitch to hit. Initially I thought I hit it pretty good, I thought (right fielder Nelson Cruz) was going to grab it, so just a lot of emotions on that one."
After the banged-up Hamilton's two-run homer in the 10th, St. Louis again tied it when Berkman hit a two-out single on a 2-2 pitch from Scott Feldman.
"I was one strike away," Feldman said. "That pitch there, I didn't quite get it in enough and he was able to get enough of the bat on it to knock it into center field."