Favored by few, the St. Louis Cardinals used an unlikely cast of characters to win their first World Series in 24 years by beating the Detroit Tigers 4-2 on Friday.
St. Louis Pitcher Jeff Weaver dominated, David Eckstein drove in two runs on balls that didn't leave the infield and the Cardinals took advantage of another wild throw by a Tigers pitcher to complete the best-of-seven Series four games to one.
"I think we shocked the world," Cardinals center fielder Jim Edmonds said. "It's an unbelievable experience."
Manager Tony La Russa's Cardinals had just 83 regular-season victories, the fewest ever by a World Series winner, and nearly missed the playoffs after a late-season slump.
But the Cardinals beat San Diego and the New York Mets in the playoffs, then won their first title since 1982 by taming a heavily favored Tigers' team that entered the Series with six days' rest.
After closer Adam Wainwright struck out Brandon Inge for the final out, Busch Stadium 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 out from the dugout and the bullpen.
"I don't think anybody in uniform didn't do something in the postseason. Everyone did," said La Russa, whose uniform number -- 10 -- now matches the team's World Series titles.
"The defense was great. The pitching was great. Timely hitting. The best bench I've had in a long time. They just refused for us to lose," he said.
Eckstein, the 1.7m shortstop who had four hits in Game 4, was the Series MVP.
"No one believed in us, but we believed in ourselves," Eckstein said.
On a cold night, the Tigers made two more errors, raising their Series total to eight -- three by third baseman Inge and a record five by their pitchers. Eight of the 22 runs allowed by the Tigers were unearned, the most by a team since the 1956 New York Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers.
The Cardinals were mostly sharp, with the notable exception of right fielder Chris Duncan, who dropped a fly ball.
Just after Duncan's error, Sean Casey's two-run homer in the fourth inning put Detroit ahead with a 2-1 lead.
St. Louis came right back to take a 3-2 lead in the bottom half as pitcher Justin Verlander threw away a ball for the second time in two starts.
Scott Rolen added a big run with a two-out RBI single in the seventh off relief Fernando Rodney, extending his playoff hitting streak to 10 games.
Weaver, cast off by the Yankees three years ago after a World Series flop, allowed four hits in eight innings, matched his season high with nine strikeouts and walked one before Wainwright finished with a one-hit ninth for the save.
Casey doubled off Wainwright with one out in the ninth for his third hit and Placido Polanco walked with two outs to put runners on the corners. Inge then struck out swinging.
St. Louis pitchers held Detroit to a .205 average (33-for-161) over the five games.
Verlander gave up three runs -- only one earned -- and three hits, recovering from early control problems to give the Tigers a decent effort.
La Russa, who led the Oakland Athletics to a sweep in the 1989 World Series, joined Sparky Anderson (Cincinnati and Detroit) as the only managers to win Series titles in the National and American Leagues.