Cory Rauschenberger's arm and bat helped the Springfield Cardinals defeat the San Antonio Missions, 6-2, on Wednesday in Game 2 of the Texas League Championship Series.
Rauschenberger (1-0) allowed one run on five hits and three walks over 6 2/3 innings and drove in two runs as the Cardinals tied the best-of-5 series at 1-1.
The 23-year-old right-hander threw 56 of 95 pitches for strikes and fanned six.
"I kept the ball down, kept throwing sinkers," he said. "I established my fastball earlier in the game, and that let me throw my off-speed pitches."
Rauschenberger did not pitch in the first round of the playoffs against Tulsa but allowed only four runs over 18 innings in winning his last three regular-season starts. He said he wasn't rusty, despite going 10 days between outings.
"I was more anxious than anything," he said. "I just wanted to get in there, give our team a chance to win -- get in there and do my job."
Springfield took a 2-0 lead in the second when Rauschenberger drilled a ground-rule double to left field to plate Reid Gorecki and Mark Hamilton. He scored on Colby Rasmus' sacrifice fly, then doubled again leading off the fifth.
"I was just looking for a good pitch to hit and I worked into a 3-2 count," he said. "It was a fastball up, I put a big swing on it."
Rauschenberger said the self-made two-run cushion didn't let him relax. In fact, it sapped some energy.
"I was a little bit tired, a little out a breath," he said with a laugh. "I just tried to compose myself, not do too much. It was definitely one of my better games hitting. I wanted to see a pitch up that I could drive."
The Cardinals tacked on two runs in the seventh when Missions reliever Dirk Hayhurst unleashed consecutive wild pitches with the bases loaded, allowing Lucena and Rasmus to race home. Amaury Marti singled home Lucena in the ninth.
Rasmus, who singled and walked three times, also made a diving catch to save two runs in the second. Nick Hundley led off with a walk and Peter Ciofrone singled, but Rasmus raced back and snared Drew Macias' drive in deep center.
San Antonio scored in the seventh when Macias lined a two-out triple and Luis Cruz followed with a base hit up the middle.
The run finally chased Rauschenberger.
"I had two outs, I wanted to get another batter, get that third out," he said. "My pitch count was up though. That's how the game goes sometimes."
Matt Antonelli's two-out single in the ninth plated Cruz with the Missions' final run.
Starter Cesar Ramos (1-1) was reached for three runs on five hits and two walks over five frames. The two-time Texas League Pitcher of the Week threw 53 of 86 pitches for strikes and fanned two.
San Antonio will send Wade LeBlanc to the mound for Game 3 on Thursday as it visits Springfield, which counters with P.J. Walters.
Rauschenberger said the Cardinals will have to rely on their bullpen and timely hitting the rest of the series.
"It's big, and [the bullpen] has been big all year. There's a bunch of big arms in the bullpen," he added. "We play pretty good at home, so if we can accomplish the small things, maybe we can pull this thing off."