BOSTON (AP) — Just when it seemed Michael Wacha had cracked, the St. Louis Cardinals began scooting around the bases and tied the World Series.
Wacha beat John Lackey in a matchup of present and past rookie sensations, and this time it was the Cardinals’ turn to take advantage of sloppy fielding as St. Louis topped the Boston Red Sox 4-2 Thursday night to even the Series at a game apiece.
David Ortiz put Boston ahead in the sixth inning with a two-run homer just over the Green Monster in left, ending Wacha’s scoreless streak at 18 2/3 innings — a rookie record for a single postseason.
But then Lackey, who in 2002 with the Angels became the first rookie in 93 years to win a World Series seventh game, faltered in a three-run seventh. St. Louis went ahead when Matt Carpenter hit a sacrifice fly that led to a pair of runs, with the second scoring on errors by catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and reliever Craig Breslow.
Carlos Beltran, back in the lineup after bruising ribs in the opener, followed with an RBI single.
“I wanted to be in the lineup. I worked so hard to get to this point,” Beltran said. “Somebody would have to kill me in order for me to get out of the lineup.”
When the Series resumes Saturday night in St. Louis, Jake Peavy starts for the Red Sox and Joe Kelly for the Cardinals. Twenty-nine of the previous 55 teams that won Game 2 to tie the Series went on to take the title.
“Excited to get home. I know everybody is,” St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said.
Wacha, a 22-year-old right-hander, was the NL championship series MVP after beating Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw twice. Wacha wasn’t quite as sharp in this one, allowing two runs, three hits and four walks in six innings with six strikeouts.
Still, the rookie improved to 4-0 with a 1.00 ERA in four outings this postseason, matching the amount of regular-season wins he has in his brief career.
The Cardinals’ hard-throwing bullpen combined for one-hit relief. Carlos Martinez got six outs, retiring Mike Napoli on an inning-ending popup with two on in the eighth. Trevor Rosenthal struck out the side in the ninth for a save, whiffing Daniel Nava with a 99 mph fastball to end it.
All three St. Louis pitchers were 23 or younger.
A night after the Cardinals made three errors in the opener and allowed the Red Sox to romp 8-1, the fielding failures were on the other side.
Lackey, pitching a day after his 35th birthday, and in his first Series appearance since his Game 7 win 11 years earlier, he couldn’t hold a 2-1 lead.
Ortiz hit his 17th career postseason homer and fifth this October, pouncing when Wacha left an 85 mph changeup in the middle of the strike zone.
“We’ve got to go out there and play better than we did tonight,” Ortiz said. “Nobody can dictate that you’re going to win four straight games every time you go out there for the World Series.”