Red Sox one win away from World Series title

Red Sox top Cards 3-1 behind Jon Lester and Koji Uehara in Game 5


Jon Lester gave up a home run to Matt Holliday but that was the only run the Cardinals would score in Game 5 in St. Louis where the Red Sox won 3-1 to take a 3-2 lead in the Series. 
by Steve Silva, Boston.com

ST. LOUIS -- The Red Sox beat the Cardinals 3-1 in Game 5 behind the stellar pitching of starter Jon Lester and are just one win away from celebrating a World Series title at Fenway Park for the first time since 1918.

David Ross broke a 1-1 tie in the seventh inning when he roped a ground-rule double just inside the left field chalk to drive in Xander Bogaerts to give the Red Sox the lead. Ross nearly popped out in foul territory on the prior pitch, but the ball landed a few feet into the stands behind the plate. Bogaerts had singled to center and Stephen Drew -- who was 1-for-14 in the World Series -- walked before the Ross double.

Jacoby Ellsbury followed Ross and broke an 0-for-8 streak with a soft line drive single to center off Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright to drive in Drew with the Red Sox third run. Ross was gunned down at the plate by Shane Robinson on the play to end the inning. There was some buzz on social media claiming that Ross was safe on the play as Molina may not have gotten the tag down on Ross -- tough to tell with the tangled bodies at the scene.

"The trip I've taken this year, I never thought I'd be there," Ross said. "There were times when I thought, 'Is my career over?' but I had great doctors, a manager having faith in me. Now I'm playing in the World Series. Just being up here talking to you, this is pretty cool right?"

Ross talked about the game winning hit, but gave credit to teammates first.

"The game winning hit, that's nice," Ross said. "I always defer to my teammates. Xander Bogaerts is one of the best young players I've ever seen. That guy has some of the best at-bats I've seen. Then [Drew], who's been scuffling a little bit, got a walk, then I got a backdoor curveball and hit the line."

Ross is the fourth Red Sox catcher with a game-winning RBI in the World Series: Jason Varitek: Game 2 in 2004, Carlton Fisk: Game 6 in 1975, Wally Schang: Game 3 in 1918.

"The fact is we're going home to a place we love to play in, in front of our fans," Red Sox manager John Farrell said about the upcoming Game 6. "It's going to be equal to the great environment we saw here. We're excited to be going home in the position we are in."

In the fourth inning, Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday crushed a Lester four-seamer to dead center with one out to tie the game at 1-1. Lester was hit hard during the inning as Carlos Beltran flied out to deep left and Yadier Molina scorched a line drive that was snagged by Drew.

"We played a little cleaner game but we just couldn't get anything going," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "Lester shut us down.... there's some positives we can take out of the game. [Wainwright] pitched a great game."

Matheny spoke about the challenge of going back to Boston and staying alive.

"It starts with the mentality that it's a great challenge," he said.  "We have to prove how tough we are mentally, after that it's all execution. We have to have Michael [Wacha] come out and pitch a great game. ...They have to lock arms and trust each other… not buy into any kind of odds, go out and play the game."

Lester had hurled 16-2/3 innings in the World Series before surrendering the run. He lasted 7-2/3 on the night, giving up four hits, the one run, no walks, and seven strikeouts on the night before giving way to Koji Uehara who came on for the four out save. Uehara fanned pinch-hitter Matt Adams on three splitters to end the eighth and got the Cardinals in order in the ninth to pick up the save.

"He was pretty good in 2007 too," Farrell said of Lester's career postseason performances. "This is a big game to go out and pitch against a top flight starter. We thought it would be a classic pitchers duel. We were fortunate enough to break through in seventh inning... Lester was terrific tonight."

With seven strikeouts on the night, Lester has fanned 33 batters this postseason. That's the second most by a Red Sox pitcher in a single postseason (Josh Beckett fanned 35 in 2007). Lester is first pitcher with multiple World Series starts of no more than one run since Curt Schilling and Roger Clemens acheived the feat in 2001. The last Red Sox pitcher to match that number was Jim Lonborg in 1967.

"He's our backbone," Ross said of his battery-mate. "He's our horse and we expect a lot from him. I love catching him... It's fun to go to battle with guys like that."

Lester is also the fifth pitcher in MLB history to allow one run run or fewer in each of his first three career World Series starts. The last was player to achieve the mark was the Cardinals Harry Brecheen from 1944-46.

The Red Sox got on the board first when Dustin Pedroia smoked a first-inning double to left off Wainwright, then David Ortiz -- now 11-for-15 in the Series -- smacked an opposite-field double to right, driving in Pedroia to give Boston an early 1-0 lead.

Ortiz has 14 career RBIs in the World Series. That ties Dwight Evans for the club record and passes Mike Napoli (13) for the lead among active Red Sox players. He came up limping a bit after an eighth inning infield single, but stayed in the game.

The Sox had something going in the fifth inning when Xander Bogaerts reached on an infield single and David Ross moved him over with a ground single to left. But Lester and Jacoby Ellsbury struck out to end the threat.

Ellsbury struck out looking to start the game. That strikeout was No. 143 for the Red Sox this postseason, breaking the previous record for one postseason set by 2010 San Francisco Giants.

Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright lasted seven innings on the night, giving up eight hits, three runs, one walk to go with 10 strikeouts. He was not as efficient as Lester, throwing 107 pitches before turning the ball over to reliever Carlos Martinez.

The game lasted two hours and 52 minutes, the most efficient game of the postseason involving the Red Sox so far.

Game 6 will be Wednesday night at Fenway Park where it will be a rematch of Game 2 starters John Lackey and Michael Wacha.
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