The St. Louis Cardinals' storybook season ended in the tatters of a 6-1 loss to Boston in Game 6 of the World Series Wednesday night at Fenway Park in Boston.
The Cardinals fell two wins short of their 12th World Series title, after winning 97 games in the regular season and nine more in the postseason.
Boston scored three in the third and three in the fourth off St. Louis rookie Michael Wacha, who was thwarted in his bid for a record fifth postseason win in his first season.
"They got big hits when they needed to," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, whose team scored three earned runs in the last 29 innings of the series. "I think we both got good pitching in the series, and good pitching is going to slow down offenses. You have to have all those components, and one of them is timely hitting.
"We weren't able to get those. Today we put some balls in play hard, and got a couple things going. But we just couldn't get the one (hit) to get them to bend a little bit. That's baseball."
Shane Victorino hit a bases-loaded double in the third and Stephen Drew homered to start a three-run rally in the fourth.
"They jumped on a couple pitches that got a little more of the plate than they normally do," Matheny said on the Fox telecast after the game. "They came out very prepared and jumped on him, and got the big hits when they needed to."
Wacha was charged with all six runs, gave up five hits, walked four and struck out five in the shortest outing by a Cardinals starter this postseason.
"We've got the greatest fans on Planet Earth," said Boston's David Ortiz, who hit .688 (11-for-16) with two homers, six RBIs and eight walks to win the series' Most Valuable Player award. "The guys worked hard and gave everything they had to get us to where we are right now. ... Once we started rolling, nobody ever stopped the train."
The Cardinals eked out a run in the seventh, the last bright moment of the year for St. Louis.
Daniel Descalso singled to right with two out, Matt Carpenter doubled him to third, and Carlos Beltran singled to left for the Cards' first run.
The Red Sox had shifted three fielders to the right side of second base with Beltran up, but he went the other way with his single to get the Cardinals on the scoreboard and extend the inning.
Matt Holliday walked to end the night for Boston starter John Lackey, relieved by Junichi Tazawa. Allen Craig, seeking his third hit of the game, hit the ball sharply to first baseman Mike Napoli to end the inning.
"Our guys have played real hard," Matheny said. "I couldn't be prouder of how they go about the game every day, day in and day out, the way they carry themselves and carry the logo on our chest."
The Series-clinching win was the first for the Red Sox at Fenway Park since 1918, when Babe Ruth played for them. The last out came on a strikeout of Carpenter by Boston closer Koji Uehara.
Wacha gave up a leadoff single to Jacoby Ellsbury in the third. After a soft groundout to third by Dustin Pedroia, moving Ellsbury to second, Wacha intentionally walked Ortiz.
Wacha struck out Napoli, but fell behind Victorino 2-1 before he lashed a fastball high off the Green Monster as the bases emptied in front of him.
"We came here this year with one mindset," Victorino said. "The slogan Boston Strong? We all lived up to that."
Drew made it 4-0 with his leadoff homer in the fourth. Wacha left after a double by Ellsbury and another intentional walk to Ortiz with one out, but Napoli and Victorino had RBI singles off reliever Lance Lynn. Both runs were charged to Wacha.
The Cardinals couldn't break through early against Lackey.
In the first, Carpenter flew out to Jonny Gomes in left, Beltran hit sharply to Pedroia shifted into right field for a 4-3 groundout, and Holliday tapped out to first baseman Napoli.
Craig and Yadier Molina singled to open the second, but couldn't get them home. Matt Adams flew out to left and David Freese flied to right before a wild pitch to Jon Jay put runners at second and third.
But Jay struck out on a 1-2 curveball from Lackey, ending the threat.
Beltran hit into an inning-ending double play after Carpenter's single in the third, and the Cards stranded two more runners in the fourth.
Craig collected his second hit with a one-out single to left, and Molina reached when Pedroia kicked his grounder.
With the tying run at the plate, Adams lined out to left and Freese took a called third strike.
More frustration came in the fifth, when Jay singled to open the inning and Carpenter singled with one out. But Beltran and Holliday each flied to right, ending the inning.
The three outs in the second, the last two in the fourth and fifth, and the last out in the seventh came with a runner in scoring position, making St. Louis 9-for-42 in that department -- a .214 clip -- in the series. During the regular season, the Cardinals hit a major-league record .330 with runners in scoring position.
The three-run double by Victorino was the first hit off Wacha with a runner in scoring position this postseason. Before that, hitters were 0-for-14 against him in that situation.
St. Louis is now 8-2 in elimination games dating back to the 2011 postseason run to the franchise's 11th World Series title.