Until tonight, St. Louis third baseman Terry Pendleton had been getting noticed for foul balls. But that was no foul ball he hit with two out in the ninth inning.

It was fair by many feet. It was a three-run double into the left field corner that transformed a 2-1 defeat into a 4-2 victory for the Cardinals over the Kansas City Royals in the second game of the World Series.

The hit, off starter Charlie Leibrandt, came after an intentional walk to Cesar Cedeno to load the bases.

"That pumped me up a little bit, that they wanted to pitch to me instead of Cedeno," Pendleton said.

But he didn't want to get too pumped up.

Pendleton felt he struggled until September this year because he was too eager at the plate.

"It was five months of nothing," he said of April through August. "Finally, in September, I told myself to just start relaxing at the plate. I was telling myself that as I was walking up there in the ninth inning tonight: relax."

Unless the Royals pull an unprecedented comeback -- no team ever has won the World Series after losing the first two at home -- Pendleton's hit bids fair to be remembered as the most famous in this World Series.

America had been getting to know Pendleton for his ability to make over-the-shoulder catches of foul balls.

He did it to halt a Los Angeles Dodgers rally in the third game of the National League Championship Series.

He made the same play in the opening game of the World Series, with an added flourish: After making the catch, he turned around and made a 200-foot throw to retire Jim Sundberg at the plate.

Pendleton, a second-year major-leaguer, has been one of the Cardinals' best players on offense and defense since he began relaxing at the start of September. In the final month of the regular season, he probably had as many important hits and outstanding defensive plays as any Cardinal.

"Terry has as much to do with us being here as anyone," said St. Louis shortstop Ozzie Smith.

He's also one of the people who has a lot to do with the Cardinals being 5-0 since Vince Coleman's injury by a mechanical tarpaulin during the playoffs in St. Louis.

Back in midsummer, base-stealing phenom Coleman was the catalyst as the running Cardinals kept the pressure on teams every minute. Now, with Coleman absent the last week, the Cardinals have gone quietly in far more innings than usual. But they've compensated with three of the biggest ninth-inning, game-winning hits in their long history.

There was Smith's ninth-inning home run to beat the Dodgers in the fifth game of the playoffs Monday.

There was Jack Clark's two-out, three-run homer that won the pennant Wednesday.

Tonight there was Pendleton's double, a hit he is surprised he was able to get off Leibrandt.

"I thought he looked tired," Pendleton said. "I thought they would take him out after Willie (McGee) doubled to start the ninth.

"The pitch I hit was a screwball that was up. I didn't see any pitches like that my first three times up. The hit I had (a third-inning single) I got off the end of my bat.

"For eight innings, Leibrandt was very tough."

Said Tommy Herr: "We have come back before against some of the best like (Rich) Gossage, (Lee) Smith and (Jeff) Reardon this year. But we weren't doing much with Leibrandt. We were ready to tip our cap to him."

"We just never think we're out of a ball game," McGee said.

Said teammate Tito Landrum: "We believe in the Yogi Berra school of thought: 'It ain't over till it's over.' "

Said Pendleton: "If there's a situation like this, everyone on our club would love to be in this spot. I do.

"We just battled back tonight from a two-run deficit and won. We just never quit."