Cards roll past Tigers for first Series win since '82

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- No Fall Classic, for sure.

Flatter than the Midwestern heartland and a flop in the TV

ratings, this World Series crowned a champion that barely made it

to the postseason and then had to survive rain and cold as much as

the bumbling Detroit Tigers.

Game 5 Breakdown

Unsung Hero

Yadier Molina. He led off the second inning with a single and came around to score the first run of the game. The Cardinals catcher finished 3-for-4 with two runs and was a defensive stalwart behind the plate.


Brandon Inge. The Tigers third baseman picked a bad day to have an off night. His throwing error with two outs in the second allowed St. Louis to get on the board, a baserunning gaffe in the third killed a potential Detroit rally and he struck out to end the game with the tying runs on base.

Turning Point

The fourth inning. After going ahead 2-1 on Sean Casey's two-run homer, the Tigers gave the lead right back in the bottom half. Justin Verlander's throwing error -- Detroit's fifth straight game with an error by a pitcher and their eighth misplay in the Series -- led to two unearned runs, and the Cards never trailed again.

Law's Take

"St. Louis won this World Series not through great play and certainly not through tremendous talent, but by making fewer mistakes than their opponents." More from Keith Law Insider

On Deck

The Cardinals celebrate their first World Series title in 24 years and get to spend all winter basking in glory. The Tigers will have many sleepless nights wondering what went wrong.

The St. Louis Cardinals will take it, though.

They beat the Tigers 4-2 in Game 5 on Friday night behind

castoffs Jeff Weaver and David Eckstein and sore-shouldered

Scott Rolen to wrap up their first Series title in nearly a

quarter-century and 10th overall.

"I think we shocked the world," Cardinals center fielder Jim Edmonds said.

Manager Tony La Russa's team had just 83 regular-season wins,

the fewest by a World Series champion, and nearly missed the

playoffs after a late-season slump.

But St. Louis beat San Diego and the New York Mets in the first

two rounds, then won its first title since 1982 by taming a heavily

favored Tigers team that entered the Series with six days' rest and

still looked stale.

Detroit pitchers made five errors, two more than the previous

Series record.

After closer Adam Wainwright struck out Brandon Inge for the

final out, the ballpark erupted. Wainwright raised his arms in

triumph, catcher Yadier Molina ran to the mound and the pair

bounced off toward second base, where they were joined by teammates

running from the dugout and the bullpen. Ace starter Chris Carpenter and injured closer Jason Isringhausen gave La Russa bear


Minutes later, fireworks filled the sky above the ballpark.

"No one believed in us, but we believed in ourselves," said

Eckstein, the 5-foot-7 shortstop who was selected Series MVP after

batting .364.

St. Louis (83-78) almost didn't even make it to the postseason.

The Cardinals had a seven-game NL Central lead with 12 to go but

lost eight of nine before recovering to finish 1½ games ahead of

Houston, the defending NL champion.

Minnesota, in 1987, had set the previous low for wins by a

Series winner, going 85-77.

"The team that wins a world championship is the team that

played the best," La Russa said.

Against the odds

St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals won 83 games in the regular season. After beating the Tigers on Friday, they rank third among teams with the fewest wins to capture the World Series. St. Louis is first on that list if shortened seasons are removed.
1918Red Sox75**
* -- Strike-shortened season.
** -- Season ended after Labor Day due to war.

A repeat of 1968's dramatic Tigers-Cardinals matchup -- won by

Detroit in seven games -- ended on a cold night more suitable to

football than baseball. The Tigers made two more errors, raising

their Series total to eight -- three by Inge, the third baseman, the

rest by pitchers.

"We didn't play well enough," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.

"There's no excuse here. I don't really know what the reasons


Eight of the 22 runs allowed by the Tigers were unearned, the

most by a team since the 1956 New York Yankees against Brooklyn.

"If you don't make the plays, you're going to lose -- whether

you're playing the Yankees or the junior varsity," Detroit closer

Todd Jones said.

Detroit, which had won in three straight Series appearances

since 1940, hit .199, the lowest in a five-game Series since the

1983 Philadelphia Phillies, with the averages of key players

shrinking with the temperature. ALCS MVP Placido Polanco was

0-for-17, Magglio Ordonez 2-for-19 (.105), Craig Monroe 3-for-20

(.150) and Ivan Rodriguez 3-for-19 (.158).

"We just never got the bats going," said Rodriguez, stating

the obvious.

It was the National League's first title since the 2003 Florida


La Russa, who led the Oakland Athletics to a sweep in the

earthquake-interrupted 1989 Bay Bridge Series, joined Sparky

Anderson (Cincinnati and Detroit) as the only managers to win

Series titles in each league.

"I have such a respect and affection for Sparky," La Russa

said. "It's such a great honor. He should really have this


Only seven managers have taken a team from each league to the World Series. If Jim Leyland ('97 Marlins) had won this year, he would have been in La Russa' shoes.

La Russa, who took over as Cardinals manager in 1996, had

yearned for a title in this tradition-rich baseball town.

"I just saw Bob Gibson," he said about a half-hour after the

final out. "When you're around here, especially if you're around

here for a while, I just don't feel you can join the club unless

you can say you won a World Series. Now we can say this group can

join the club."

Elias Says

Detroit Tigers
The Tigers were not charged with an unearned run in either the Division Series or the League Championship Series, but they allowed eight unearned runs in the World Series and at least one in each of the five games. No other team had ever allowed unearned runs in each of five consecutive World Series games in one year. Before the Tigers, no team had done it in four straight games since the 1932 Yankees.

• For more Elias Says, Click here.

While the Tigers had fielding problems, the Cardinals were

mostly crisp, with the notable exception of right fielder Chris Duncan, who dropped a fly ball just before Sean Casey's two-run

homer in the fourth put Detroit ahead 2-1.

St. Louis had gone ahead on Eckstein's infield single in the

second, with Inge making a diving stop over the bag but throwing

the ball low and wide to first.

"It's the atmosphere that can get you a little tight," Inge

said. "It's the biggest stage in the world for baseball. It can

make some nerves, get people a little jittery."

Casey, who batted a Series-high .529, homered for the second

straight night, but St. Louis came right back to take a 3-2 lead in

the bottom of the fourth as pitcher Justin Verlander threw away a

ball for the second time in two starts. One run scored on the error

and another on Eckstein's grounder.

"I just threw it away. I had the wrong mindset," Verlander

said. "I picked it up and said to myself, 'Don't throw it away,'

instead of just picking it up and throwing it. I got tentative."

Rolen, who led Cardinals' batters at .421, added a big run with

a two-out RBI single in the seventh off reliever Fernando Rodney,

extending his postseason hitting streak to 10 games.

It marked the first time since the 1912 Red Sox at Boston's

Fenway Park that a team won the Series at home in a first-year


As the Tigers failed in their bid for their first title since

1984, their season ended with Kenny Rogers rested and ready with no

place to pitch. Rogers, who threw 23 shutout innings in the

postseason, was saved by Leyland for a possible Game 6 in Detroit

on Saturday.

Weaver, cast off by the Yankees three years ago after a World

Series flop and dealt to the Cardinals by the Angels in July,

allowed four hits in eight innings. He matched his season high with

nine strikeouts and walked one before Wainwright finished for the


"It's all the belief in yourself, knowing that you're going to

work through it," Weaver said. "Just never say die. Just keep


Verlander gave up three runs -- one earned -- and three hits,

recovering from early control problems to give the Tigers a decent

effort. Throwing up to 100 mph, he walked the bases loaded and tied

a Series record with two wild pitches. But he escaped when

Ronnie Belliard hit a grounder up the middle that shortstop Carlos Guillen

just got to in time to make an off-balance throw to first, beating

Belliard by less than a step as Casey scooped the ball on a bounce.

Albert Pujols hit just .200 with two RBI in the Series but

turned in the night's niftiest play, sprawling to snare Polanco's

grounder to first leading off the seventh. Then he made a

one-bounce throw from his back to Weaver covering the base.

"Anytime you make big plays, it changes the momentum of the

game," Weaver said, "and I think that was a big one."

Game notes
The record for unearned runs allowed in the Series is 13,

shared by the 1903 Pittsburgh Pirates and 1909 Tigers. …

Verlander was the first pitcher to lose twice in a five-game Series

since Oakland's Storm Davis in 1988. … Fox's 10.1 average for

four games was a record low, down 9 percent from the 11.1 from last

year's Chicago White Sox sweep of Houston.