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Cards let loose in celebration

Cards let loose in celebration

ST. LOUIS -- A little more than a year ago, Cardinals fans celebrated when they had no reason. The Astros defeated them in six games of the National League Championship Series to close old Busch Stadium.

Another season, a wrecking ball, a bright red new place and a World Series title later, St. Louis showed it really knows how to celebrate.

Rookie closer Adam Wainwright struck out Brandon Inge to wrap up the 4-2, series-clinching victory over the Tigers on Friday night. Wainwright raised his arms and bounded into the air, and the sold-out stadium leaped with him.

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Confetti flew and fireworks resounded. Also flying was 26-month-old Nicole Dakota Miles. That's because her dad, Cards second baseman Aaron Miles, repeatedly tossed her into the air and caught her. The child and Miles' wife, Courtney, enjoyed it all.

One player was flying in a more figurative sense. Reserve outfielder John Rodriguez circled the place in a victory lap.

Right-handed ace Chris Carpenter said it was only fitting to clinch at home in the new place, especially after disappointments the last two years at the old place, which witnessed the end of the Red Sox' Series sweep in 2004 and the disappointment against the Astros last year.

"It's a great feeling to go all year long to do this, and it was great to do it in front of our fans," Carpenter said.

It was as if everyone were family, even though, in a sense, they barely knew many of their Cardinals.

Wainwright is a mere rookie that didn't become the closer until late September.

Second baseman Ronnie Belliard, who made a nice fielding play in the ninth, came over in a deadline trade with the Indians. Outfielder Preston Wilson and right-handed pitcher Jeff Weaver -- who brought the title home with eight strong innings on Friday -- were designated for assignment (a fancy way of saying discarded) by their former clubs, the Astros and the Angels, respectively.

But they're all bound by the birds on the bat now.

"We did what it took to be a team and function as a team to win a championship," Wilson said. "We didn't listen to outside influences. We stayed focused. We believed in everybody that we put in the lineup or on the mound that day, in that situation. They did the job."

Of course, the bricks and steel and concrete may be new, but the Cardinals are never far from the echoes of their history.

Right before the trophy presentation at second base, the sound system blared one of the happiest noises in Cardinals history when Ozzie Smith sent the home team to the World Series with an unlikely home run.

Even though legendary broadcaster Jack Buck passed on June 18, 2002, his words still have the proper effect on fans:

"Go crazy, folks!"

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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