BOSTON — The Red Sox went all St. Louis Cardinals, circa Game One, in the seventh inning Thursday night. The sudden blooper reel footage, combined with a trio of electric Redbird arms, ended Boston’s nine-game winning streak in the World Series.
Taking advantage of a double error to score the go-ahead run, the Cardinals scored three times in the seventh and earned a 4-2 victory that evened the series at a win apiece.
The teams headed for St. Louis after the game and will hold a workout there today in Busch Stadium. Game Three is Saturday night at 8:07 with Joe Kelly pitching for the Cardinals against Boston’s Jake Peavy. With the series assured of going five games, the teams will play three times in three days under the shadow of the Gateway Arch.
The Red Sox swept St. Louis in four straight games in 2004 and did the same to Colorado in 2007. Wednesday’s 8-1 cruise, a game that featured three St. Louis errors and numerous other blunders in the early innings, was No. 9 and that made the streak the fourth-longest in Series history.
When David Ortiz slugged yet another dramatic home run in the sixth, the Red Sox had a 2-1 lead against Cardinals rookie sensation Michael Wacha and were on their way to No. 10.
“I made a mistake. A 3-2 changeup over the zone and he made me pay,” said Wacha. “I was pretty mad coming in the dugout.”
That’s when catcher Yadier Molina told Wacha not to fret and to expect a comeback.
“Everybody had confidence we were going to score runs and it really picked me up,” Wacha said. “It was fun to watch.”
It started with a one-out walk to David Freese by Boston starter John Lackey, pitching his first Series contest since winning Game Seven as a rookie with the Los Angeles Angels in 2002.
John Jay singled, with pinch-runner Pete Kozma taking second, and reliever Craig Breslow coming on for Lackey. After a double steal moved the runners up, Daniel Descalso walked to load the bases by taking a full-count pitch inside.
That brought up leadoff man Matt Carpenter, a demon during the regular season with the bags loaded (7 for 9 with 21 RBIs). And Carpenter got the job done again with a sacrifice fly to Jonny Gomes in left. Kozma slid in just ahead of the throw and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia failed to corral the ball on the backhand, with his error allowing Jay to advance.
Breslow grabbed the ball just on the first-base side of the plate, and airmailed it to third over the head of shortstop Stephen Drew covering the bag. That allowed Jay to jog home with what proved to be the winning run.
“Uncharacteristic of the way we’ve taken care of the baseball this year,” said Boston manager John Farrell.
Carlos Beltran followed with a clean single to right to drive in Descalso.
The St. Louis pitchers, none of whom are over age 23, spun a four-hitter. Wacha went six innings to improve to 4-0 this postseason, 22-year-old Carlos Martinez tossed a 1-2-3 seventh and survived a Carpenter error and Ortiz single in the eighth, and 23-year-old closer Trevor Rosenthal sealed the deal by striking out the side in a perfect ninth.
“That doesn’t surprise me. Those guys have talent,” said Molina. “They’re not afraid to pitch.”
Martinez, a hard-throwing right-hander, got a huge seal of approval from manager Mike Matheny when he was kept in the game to face the dangerous Ortiz in the eighth even though veteran lefty Randy Choate was warming up in the bullpen.
When Martinez got Mike Napoli to pop to Kozma in short left field for the final out, he pumped his fist and got a huge handshake and pat on the head from Molina in front of the dugout.
“He was pumped up,” Molina said. “That’s good for us.”
“I trust myself and I knew I had the stuff to get him out,” Martinez said through an interpreter. “But I wasn’t thinking about if they’re going to bring in the lefty or not, I was just ready until they take me out.”
The Fenway crowd of 38,436 was abuzz as Ortiz turned around a 1-0 deficit with a two-run shot in the sixth.
Wacha had blanked the Sox on two hits over the first 5∑ innings before he walked Dustin Pedroia. Ortiz worked the count full and then drove an 85-mph delivery just over the wall to give Boston the lead.
The home run prevented Wacha from breaking Hall of Famer Bob Gibson’s franchise record for consecutive scoreless innings in the postseason. They were tied at 19 before Ortiz’s shot.
“We’re not going to give up. We know it’s not easy to win the World Series,” Jay said. “Nobody is going to hand it to you. You have to work for it and that’s what we did tonight.”