Cards offense -- and Sox errors -- bail Wacha out

5:47 AM, Oct 25, 2013   |    comments
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(SportsNetwork.com) - Nerves? Michael Wacha felt them before his first World Series start. Nothing too bad, but he was anxious to take the mound.

When he got there -- down on the field at Fenway Park for Game 2 on Thursday night -- Wacha found he didn't have his best stuff. He was more wild than he had been in the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers, when he outdueled former Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw twice to win MVP.

The 22-year-old Cardinals rookie walked four batters in six innings, throwing 43 percent of his pitches for balls. Still, he held the Red Sox scoreless for 5 1/3 innings, running his shutout streak in the playoffs to 19 frames.

No one had scored two runs off Wacha in more than a month, since the Rockies knocked him for four in game on Sept. 19.

In between that game and Thursday in Boston, Wacha had twice flirted with a no-hitter -- in his final regular season start, when he came within one out of doing it against the Nationals; and in game 4 of the NLDS against the Pirates, when he lost it in the eighth.

All of that was in the past when David Ortiz sent a two-run homer into the first row of seats atop the Green Monster in the sixth inning, which gave the Red Sox a 2-1 lead.

Wacha had left a 3-2 changeup in the zone to a hitter who had 16 career home runs in the postseason, including four this year.

Ortiz whacked it the opposite way for No. 17.

"With this lineup that Boston has, you can't make mistakes or they'll let you pay," said Wacha.

The mistake left him steamed. Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina was there to calm him down, promising the right-hander at least a run in the top of the seventh.

The Cardinals scored three -- with a little help from the suddenly error-prone Red Sox.

With one out, Boston starter John Lackey walked David Freese, gave up a single to Jon Jay and was replaced by Craig Breslow. The Cardinals executed a double steal and Daniel Descalso drew a seven-pitch walk to load the bases.

The Red Sox, who committed the eighth-fewest errors in the majors during the regular season, made two on the next play.

Jonny Gomes caught Matt Carpenter's sac fly in shallow left field and threw wide of home plate. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia let it get past him on the first base side, the first error. Then Breslow -- inexplicably with two outs -- tried to throw Jay out at third base but sailed the pitch over the bag for the second error, allowing the run to score for a 3-2 Cardinals lead.

Carlos Beltran followed with his first career World Series RBI on a single to right and the Cardinals had suddenly doubled up the Red Sox.

"Everyone was starting to feel pretty good," said Wacha. "Everyone came in, had all the confidence in the world that we were going to put up runs, and they really picked me up. And it was a lot of fun to watch."

Wacha was in line for the loss before the rally, which gave him a win and moved him to 4-0 in his four postseason starts. He gave up three hits and struck out six in his six innings -- good enough on this night.

"It's the World Series, a big-time game," Wacha said. "So I just tried to use it to my advantage to go out and pitch with some adrenaline, and just try to block out the fans and the crowd."

Wacha helped the Cardinals end Boston's nine-game World Series winning streak, which began with a sweep of St. Louis in 2004. He was the first pitcher to beat the Red Sox at home in the World Series since 1986. The series is tied 1-1 going back to St. Louis.

"The kid continues to impress," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. "I don't know what else you could ask. Put him on any stage and he does a real nice job of limiting distractions.

"He stuck with his strengths and really went out and was aggressive, and that's exactly what we needed him to do."

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