ST. LOUIS (Reuters) - Hawaiian rookie Kolten Wong sat stunned in the St. Louis locker room, trying to come to terms with a mistake that put the final nail in the Cardinals' World Series Game Four coffin.
Coming into the game in the ninth inning as a pinch runner after Allen Craig gave the Cards hope of rallying from 4-2 down to Boston, Wong was the victim of a rare pick off play at first base by closer Koji Uehara to end the game.
Boston's win tied the World Series at 2-2, with Game Five scheduled for Monday, again in St. Louis.
Clearly shaken by the experience, Wong sniffed back the tears.
"It's tough," he said. "You don't want to fail, but it happens."
St. Louis slugger Carlos Beltran felt for the rookie.
"I feel real bad for him," Beltran said. "I feel the best way for us to pick him up is being able to come here tomorrow and get a win."
That it happened in a World Series game magnified Wong's mistake. But it was not the only one by the Cardinals on Sunday.
With the game knotted at 1-1 in the sixth inning, reliever Seth Maness left a pitch up in the hitting zone and the free-swinging Jonny Gomes launched it over the fence in left-center to give the Red Sox a 4-1 lead.
"A guy like me, I got to hit my spots and you know it didn't happen tonight," said Maness, who relies more on finesse than velocity. "I left the ball up ... right down the middle.
"It's baseball, it happens. You don't want to be on this end of it, but you know you, got to come back tomorrow."
St. Louis third baseman David Freese, the World Series MVP when the Cardinals won the title in 2011, said Maness had been "unreal" all season and "just made a mistake."
He was less forgiving of his own 0-for-4 performance, in which he left four runners on base.
"Terrible" was how he described it, but was quick to add: "baseball can change in 24 hours.
"We're still in a good position, that's the way I look at it."
Editing by Peter Rutherford