World Series star Allen Craig homered on Matt Harrison's seventh pitch of the game, and the St. Louis Cardinals led the Texas Rangers 1-0 after three innings Saturday night as they tried to open a 2-games-to-1 lead in the best-of-seven matchup.
Craig homered on a high, flat 0-1 pitch, sending the ball deep over the 14-foot wall and into the left-field seats, where a fan tossed it back onto the field. It was the first home run of the Series for the Cardinals and just the second overall.
Craig, who hit run-scoring pinch singles in each of the first two games, got his first start of the Series in right field, with Lance Berkman switching to designated hitter. Ryan Theriot started at second base in place of Nick Punto, who was 3 for 6. Jon Jay (0 for 7 coming in) was dropped from second to eighth in the batting order.
St. Louis has scored first in 10 consecutive games, one shy of the postseason record set by Detroit from 1972-84.
Kyle Lohse, 0-4 with a 5.09 ERA in eight postseason appearances, allowed one hit in the first three innings, struck out three and walked two, throwing 62 pitches. Harrison gave up two hits, struck out three and walked none, throwing 47 pitches.
With the switch to the AL city, Michael Young moved to DH for the Rangers and was replaced at first base by Mike Napoli, with Yorvit Torrealba starting behind the plate for just the second time since Sept. 26. Josh Hamilton moved from left to center, with David Murphy taking over in left and Craig Gentry going to the bench.
Texas threatened in the second when Adrian Beltre singled with one out and Nelson Cruz walked. But Mike Napoli flied out to right and David Murphy grounded out, dropping the Rangers to 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position in the Series.
Hamilton, the reigning AL MVP, grounded and lined out in his first two at-bats, dropping to 0 for 9 against the Cardinals and remaining hitless in 18 World Series at-bats dating to last year. Hamilton, who said before the game his groin injury may be a sports hernia, is homerless in 50 at-bats during this year's postseason.
With fans wearing red and waving towels, the scene was similar to the one at Busch Stadium for the first two games — but the gametime temperature was 80, up from 50 on Thursday night.
A ninth-inning rally Thursday gave Texas a 2-1 win and a split in St. Louis. That avoided a repeat of last year, when the Rangers came home after losing the opening two games in San Francisco.
In Game 4 Sunday night, Derek Holland pitches for the Rangers and Edwin Jackson starts for the Cardinals. Thirty-six of 54 teams that won Game 3 to take a 2-1 Series lead have gone on to the title, including 10 of the last 11. In 2003, the Florida Marlins lost Game 3 to the New York Yankees and then won three in a row for the championship.
In addition, home teams winning Game 3 for a 2-1 Series lead have won eight straight titles.
NOTES: Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki, wearing a blue No. 41 Texas Rangers jersey, threw the ceremonial first pitch to Young. ... Baseball and Fox abandoned their one-year experiment with an earlier Saturday night start, beginning at 8:06 p.m. EDT instead of 7 p.m. Texas' 4-2 win over San Francisco in Game 3 last year, the earliest-starting Series game since 1987, drew a 6.7 rating and 13 share, the second-lowest ever for a Series game, ahead of only the rain-delayed Game 3 between Philadelphia and Tampa Bay in 2008, which drew a 6.1.