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Jon Lester continued his remarkable run of World Series dominance by pitching into the eight inning again, and David Ross helped his starting pitcher with a tie-breaking double in the seventh inning to lead the Boston Red Sox to a 3-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 5 of the World Series.
The Red Sox now return to Fenway Park with a 3-2 edge, needing just one more win at home to close out their third World Series title in the past ten years.
Lester and Ross led the way for the Red Sox, with Ross calling a masterful game behind home plate as an encore to Lester’s Game 1 performance. Lester went 7.2 strong innings, giving up just one run on a mistake to Matt Holliday in the fourth inning. He allowed just four hits and struck out seven Cardinals batters, walking none. He again outdueled Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright, who struck out 10 in 7 innings (including the first six outs) but coughed up three runs.
Despite Wainwright’s strikeout bonanza to start Game 5, the Red Sox did manage to jump out to a first inning lead. After Jacoby Ellsbury struck out leading off, Dustin Pedroia laced a hanging curveball down the left field line for a double. David Ortiz, who apparently doesn’t understand the definition of “humanly possible,” jumped on Wainwright’s next offering for a double of his own to give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead. The DH-turned-first baseman is now hitting a ludicrous .733/.750/1.267, with two home runs and six RBIs despite having a grand slam robbed by Carlos Beltran.
Holliday knotted the score at 1-1 with his fourth inning blast over the wall in center, Lester’s first real mistake on the night. Lester escaped further damage when Jonny Gomes caught Beltran’s deep drive on the warning track in left and Stephen Drew made a leaping grab on a hard liner by Yadier Molina. They would be the first two of 12 batters retired in a row by Lester following the Holliday home run.
The game would stay tied until the seventh, when Xander Bogaerts continued to show why he’s going to be a stud for years to come on the Red Sox. He lined a single up the middle with one out, then Drew improved slightly on his abysmal postseason performance (at least at the plate) by drawing a hard-earned walk. Ross, with Lester scheduled to bat next, roped a clutch ground-rule double that just landed inside the chalk down the left field line, scoring Bogaerts from second. After Lester grounded weakly to the pitcher, Ellsbury snapped an 0-for-8 streak with an RBI single to center, giving the Red Sox a 3-1 lead.
Lester would give way to closer Koji Uehra with a runner on second and two outs in the eighth, having given up a one-out double down the right field line to David Freese before retiring the punchless Pete Kozma for the second out. Uehara promptly dispatched pinch hitter Matt Adams on three pitches, then sat the Cardinals down 1-2-3 in the ninth for his second save of the World Series and record-tying seventh overall in the 2013 postseason.
The Red Sox will look to close out their improbable run to a World Series trophy on Wednesday night in Boston. John Lackey, who pitched a scoreless eighth inning in relief during Game 4, will go against precocious Cardinals starter Michael Wacha in Game 6. First pitch is at 8:07 PM.