ST. LOUIS — Josh Hamilton and the Texas hitters looked lost. They chased pitches that bounced, broke their bats and seemed totally overmatched.
Until the ninth inning, that is.
Down to their last three outs, and in danger of dropping into a serious World Series deficit, the Rangers rallied against St. Louis' vaunted bullpen.
Hamilton and Michael Young lifted sacrifice flies in the ninth and Texas startled the Cardinals 2-1 Thursday night to even the World Series at 1.
"It wasn't a Series-saving rally, but it was huge," said Ian Kinsler, whose single and steal set up the comeback.
For the second straight night, Cardinals pinch-hitter Allen Craig greeted reliever Alexi Ogando with a go-ahead single. This time, Craig did it the seventh. In Game 1, his hit in the sixth sent the Cards to a 3-2 win.
Said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa: "It was almost a great story for us, turned out to be a greater one for them."
Texas hosts Game 3 on Saturday night.
"It would have been hard," Hamilton said of facing being down 2-0. "We would have been comfortable going back to our place, having three games. They're just like we are, never say die, till the last out is made. It makes it fun."
The Rangers have not lost two straight since Aug. 23-25. They sure waited a while to save themselves on this night that began as duel between starters Colby Lewis and the Cardinals' Jaime Garcia.
Kinsler opened the ninth with a bloop single against Jason Motte. Next up was Elvis Andrus, whose tremendous play at shortstop kept the game scoreless much earlier. Kinsler, though, wasn't about to wait; he stole second, sliding in just ahead of Yadier Molina's excellent throw.
Andrus followed with a single to center, sending Kinsler to third. And when the relay throw got away for a moment, Andrus scampered to second.
La Russa brought in left-hander Arthur Rhodes to face Hamilton. But the slumping slugger, slowed throughout the postseason by a groin injury, hit a deep fly ball that scored Kinsler and moved Andrus to third.
La Russa brought in Lance Lynn to face Young. The Texas veteran did his job, lofting a fly ball that sent Andrus home.
Then it was Rangers manager Ron Washington's turn. He signaled for closer Neftali Feliz, who worked around a leadoff walk to earn the save. Mike Adams got the win.
"It was calm in our dugout the whole night," Washington said. "You've got to keep fighting. We needed to get one here. And I think (Thursday night) was one of those great ball games that you'll continue to see between the Texas Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals."
The Cardinals broke through against Lewis in the seventh when David Freese singled with one out and took third on Nick Punto's two-out single. La Russa pulled Garcia and put up Craig, who was injured for most of the season.
Washington then went to Ogando. After a first-pitch foul, Craig lined a 96 mph heater over Kinsler at second base for the go-ahead run.
Up through the ninth, the Texas hitters were flailing.
Hamilton, the reigning AL MVP, seemed to be wearing down with every swing in his first three at-bats.
Hamilton shattered his bat the first time up and slowly jogged to first base. Later, he weakly waved and appeared overmatched as he struck out on three pitches. That left him with an 0-for-16 Series slump dating to last October.
Hamilton's teammates were equally feeble against Garcia, possibly because none of Texas' starters had ever faced him.
The acrobatic Andrus made a sensational play in the fifth to keep the game scoreless.
After a two-out single by Punto and a walk to the light-hitting Garcia, Rafael Furcal slapped a hard grounder up the middle. Andrus dived to his left to stop it on the edge of the outfield grass, got to his knees and flipped the ball with his glove about 25 feet to second baseman Kinsler, who barely beat Garcia to the bag for a forceout.
"The situation that was in, and being that it was a World Series game and just the run-saving play, that play was ridiculous," Kinsler said with a chuckle. "It was probably one of the best I've seen, not just him, but one of the best defensive plays."
"When we get home tonight," Hamilton added, "I'm going to watch it again."