Shoddy defense by the Boston Red Sox, a sacrifice fly by Matt Carpenter and an RBI single by Carlos Beltran in the seventh inning were the difference Thursday as the St. Louis Cardinals defeated Boston 4-2 in Game 2 of the World Series at Fenway Park.
The Cardinals' rally made a winner of Michael Wacha, who improved to 4-0 in the postseason despite allowing David Ortiz's two-run homer that put the Red Sox ahead 2-1 in the sixth.
Wacha, a rookie right-hander, allowed two runs on three hits, walked four and struck out six. Carlos Martinez threw a scoreless seventh and eighth and Trevor Rosenthal struck out the side in the ninth for the save.
It was the Red Sox's first World Series loss since 1986 against the New York Mets.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was again impressed by Wacha, who is putting together a postseason for the record books with just three runs allowed in 27 innings.
"The kids gave up three hits, and one of them was a bloop," Matheny said. "He gave up a couple of walks and just happened to give up the big hit. But it appeared (he wasn't as effective) because he's been so sharp. You can't ask much more from that kid or from anybody else."
Wacha was pleased overall, and he credited the Red Sox for laying off pitches on which he usually gets swings-and-misses.
"They battled me all night," Wacha said. "They got my pitch count up a lot more than I wanted it to be."
Ortiz appeared to be on his way to being the hero --ever so briefly.
The left-handed-hitting Ortiz connected on a changeup after Wacha walked Dustin Pedroia with one out. The drive carried into the first row of seats above the Green Monster in left.
The runs were just the second and third allowed by Wacha in 26 1/3 postseason innings. After returning to the dugout, Wacha slammed his glove to the floor in frustration.
But Wacha's and the Cardinals' frustration were short-lived.
Red Sox starter John Lackey struck out Allen Craig to start the seventh, but David Freese walked on a 3-2 pitch and Jon Jay singled.
That spelled the end of Lackey's evening, and he was relieved by left-hander Craig Breslow.
Pinch-runner Pete Kozma and Jay executed a double-steal, and Daniel Descalso walked to load the bases.
Carpenter hit a sacrifice fly to left to score Kozma. Jonny Gomes' throw home got away from catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who was charged with an error that allowed Jay to take third.
Jay wound up scoring when Breslow inexplicably threw to third to try to get Jay, who already was close to the bag. Breslow's throw sailed, allowing Jay to score the go-ahead run as Descalso took third. Descalso scored on Beltran's single that made it 4-2.
Wacha was relieved by Martinez to start the seventh. Martinez stranded two runners in the eighth when he got Mike Napoli on a weak popup with runners at first and second.
"Unbelievable," Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina said of Martinez. "This kid is not afraid. He keeps the ball down, and that's the key."
Molina's slow grounder up the middle scored Matt Holliday, who had tripled, to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead in the fourth.
Holliday led off with a long drive to center against Lackey that caromed off the side wall and rolled away from Jacoby Ellsbury. Holliday, who had one triple in 520 at-bats during the regular season, easily reached third.
Matt Adams was robbed of a hit when second baseman Pedroia dived to his right to snare a line drive. Molina then hit a hopper over Lackey's head that was fielded behind the mound by Pedroia, who had no play but to throw out Molina at first as Holliday scored.
It was the first lead the Cardinals have had in a World Series game against the Red Sox since 1967.
Wacha had allowed just two hits and had five strikeouts through five innings. He escaped a significant jam in the fourth.
Pedroia clanged a double off the Green Monster to lead off and Ortiz walked. But Napoli grounded into a 6-4-3 double play and Gomes popped out to second.
Beltran, appearing in his first Fall Classic, was able to play despite suffering a right rib-cage injury in the second inning of Game 1 on Wednesday when he slammed into the wall as he hauled down Ortiz's bid for a grand slam. Instead, Beltran's catch made it a sacrifice fly.
Beltran, however, exited the game and went to a local hospital for X-rays, which were negative.
"When I left the ballpark (Wednesday), I was having a little hope of being in the lineup," Beltran said. "I came and got a lot of treatment. I met with the doctors and they gave me a bunch of pain-killers. ... I wanted to be in the lineup. I had worked so hard to get to this point. Somebody was going to have to kill me in order for me to be out of the lineup."
Beltran had a single in the opening inning against Lackey, but was left on first when Holliday struck out and Adams flied out.
Wacha threw a dominant first, striking out Shane Victorino, on a changeup, and Pedroia.
Molina blooped a leadoff single to right in the second, but nothing materialized against Lackey as Craig flied out to right, Freese struck out and Jay bounced out.
Wacha threw a scoreless second, although his pitch count swelled to 38. He allowed a one-out walk in the inning to Napoli.
Wacha didn't throw a curveball until his 39th pitch, getting a called strike against Stephen Drew to start the third. Ellsbury collected the Red Sox's first hit of the game, a two-out single in the third when Victorino flied out to center.
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2665.