ST. LOUIS, OCT. 21 -- The World Series practically no one wanted sped along on the course no one expected tonight.

Tom Lawless hit a three-run homer and Bob Forsch and Ken Dayley pitched 5 1/3 innings of five-hit relief tonight as the St. Louis Cardinals tied the Series with a 7-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins before 55,347 at Busch Stadium.

The victory leaves the Series tied at two games apiece and ensures that it'll move back to Minneapolis for at least one game this weekend. By the time Game 6 begins Saturday afternoon in the Metrodome, the Cardinals could be going for their second championship of the Whitey Herzog era (1980-87), and, if you doubt they're capable of winning four straight, consider: They got six hits and five runs in 3 1/3 innings off Twins ace Frank Viola tonight. It tied an Aug. 30 appearance as his earliest departure of the season, this from the team playing without 47 homers (Jack Clark and Terry Pendleton). Lawless hit the second home run of his big league career. His only other one came April 25, 1984. Of all the knockout punches the Twins might have expected, this wasn't one. He had one homer in 384 major league at-bats. He had gone two for 25 this season, despite spending the entire year with the Cardinals. He was playing tonight only because Pendleton is hurt.

Lawless was two for 10 in post-season play when he sent Viola's belt-high fastball sailing over the left-field fence. After giving up 18 runs in Games 1 and 2 in the Metrodome, St. Louis pitchers have held the Twins to three in Games 3 and 4.

"We've got a big one {Thursday night here}," Herzog said. "That's just as important as any we've played. If we don't win it, we've got to win two in the {Metrodome}. If we can win the last one here, hopefully, we can win one in the Dome this weekend."

Tonight, Cardinals starter Greg Mathews went 3 2/3 innings and left after reinjuring a right quadricep muscle. He was followed by Forsch for 2 2/3 innings and Dayley for 2 2/3.

Herzog had complained that a seven-game series with two off days allowed teams to get by with weak pitching. But the Twins' weakness was there for all to see tonight.

Viola and Mathews were both gone in the fourth, and the difference was the bullpens. Where Forsch and Dayley survived, the Twins' reliever did not. Left-hander Dan Schatzeder entered the game with the Cardinals leading by 4-1. He promptly allowed a runner he had inherited from Viola to score, then let in two of his own.

In all, the Cardinals had 10 hits, getting two hits and two RBI apiece from rookie Jim Lindeman and center fielder Willie McGee.

They also got their usual spectacular defense, especially in the fifth when the Twins loaded the bases with one out and scored only once. Lawless made a big play, knocking down Kirby Puckett's infield hit that was headed down the left-field line; shortstop Ozzie Smith ran into the hole to rob Gary Gaetti of a hit; and left fielder Vince Coleman dived to stop Tom Brunansky's liner for the third out.

"Those were three really outstanding plays," Twins Manager Tom Kelly said.

"I think Lawless' play was the key to the inning, but Coleman made a great catch to end the inning. We didn't expect them to throw in the towel when we were up 2-0. They've pitched better than us and hit better than us. Maybe we learned a little something from one like this."

Before tonight, the Twins had been undefeated in postseason games started by Viola and Bert Blyleven, who will start Game 5 Thursday night against Danny Cox. But Viola was gone early.

"He was a little wild," Kelly said. "He had a couple of walks that hurt him, and they both came around to score. Lawless hit a mediocre fastball. It was up in the strike zone and didn't have much on it. I'm not taking anything away from Lawless. He certainly had to hit the ball well to get it out of the park."

The Twins had totaled 13 runs in the fourth innings of Games 1 and 2, both in the Metrodome. Tonight, it was the Cardinals' turn as they sent 10 men to the plate and scored six runs in the fourth.

They were in a 1-1 tie when the inning began with Tony Pena drawing a walk. Jose Oquendo singled to right. Viola had struck out Lawless on a curveball in the second inning, but this time, he hung a belt-high fastball in the middle of the plate.

Lawless hit it to left field, then stood at the plate and watched it sail over the fence. At about this time, the parties were beginning on Stadium Plaza and in the Cardinals' dugout. The momentum had turned and the Series would be returning to the Metrodome.

Lawless explained his Reggie-like home-run walk, saying: "I didn't want to pass Jose, who was on first. I've hit other balls real well here, and they didn't go out. When I saw that one, I just said, 'Holy cow!' I saw on the replay that I'd flipped my bat, but I really don't remember it. I haven't been in the position too many times before."

Oddly, his last homer had come off Dayley when Dayley was pitching for the Atlanta Braves.

"He reminds me about it constantly," Dayley said. "Every day they bring around a stat sheet which lists each player's last home run, and he drops it by my locker frequently. He keeps telling me he's going to bring the ball in for me to sign."

After the home run, the Cardinals still weren't finished. Forsch flied to left, but, when Coleman walked, Kelly brought in Schatzeder. Coleman stole second, and Schatzeder struck out Smith. He intentionally walked Herr, but Lindeman singled to left for a run and McGee doubled to left center for two more and a 7-1 lead.

The Twins got a run back off Forsch in the fifth, but the three big defensive plays bailed him out. The Twins also loaded the bases in the seventh, but Dayley came in and struck out Gaetti and got Brunansky on a foul pop.

Herzog said the defensive plays, especially the ones by Smith, didn't even faze him.

"I'm spoiled," he said. "He's been here six years, and I've kind of come to expect those plays. He just makes 'em. I don't even say, 'Way to go anymore.' I really believed I've been blessed as a manager."

Dayley is an amazing story all his own, having undergone elbow surgery just last October. He was back pitching again by May and was throwing a 90-mph fastball tonight.

"It's kind of a miracle," he said. "Things are better than I ever expected, and all of a sudden here I am in the World Series. We're definitely excited right now. It's been a tough road back after losing the first two. But we knew you have to win four. Right now, we've got two to go."

Herzog continues to rave about Twins third baseman Gary Gaetti: "I'd been told for a while that he was the best third baseman in the American League. I mean, it wasn't just this year. That's something to say when you've got Wade Boggs and George Brett playing there."

A native of nearby Centralia, Ill., Gaetti was the Cardinals' fourth-round pick in the January 1978 draft. He turned down their offer to attend a junior college in Mattoon, Ill., and was picked by the Chicago White Sox in the June 1978, draft. Then in June 1979, he did sign with the Twins.

"I wish we'd have signed him," Herzog said. "He generates a lot of power as little as he is."

He rolled those words around in his head and smiled. "I hope his bat's not corked," he said. "Now that I think about it, I'm going to have his bat checked." That ought to be easy enough because "a guy just sent me a chainsaw," Herzog said.