Get this: The last time the Red Sox clinched a World Series title at Fenway Park, Babe Ruth was a young Boston pitcher.
Wednesday night, the Red Sox have the opportunity to clinch their first championship in their own ballpark since Wednesday, Sept. 11, 1918. The opportunity comes courtesy of a 3-1 victory Monday night in Game 5 at Busch Stadium. The Sox now lead the World Series, 3-2.
Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright walked his first batter of Game 5 in the seventh inning and David Ross made him pay for it a batter later when he took a curveball and lined it just inside the left field foul line. The ball bounced into the seats for a ground-rule double and the Red Sox had a 2-1 lead. Jacoby Ellsbury tacked on another run when he singled into center, scoring Stephen Drew. Ross also looked to score on the play, but was gunned out at home. Still, the Red Sox had a 3-1 lead by the time the first few notes of “God Bless America” were hit.
Boston didn’t need much offense to topple the Cards as Jon Lester pitched 7.2 innings of brilliant ball, allowing just four hits and one earned run. Lester struck out seven Cardinals batters on 91 pitches. Koji Uehara was also once again sharp in relief, getting Matt Adams to strike out on three straight pitches in the eighth despite St. Louis looking primed to dig into Boston’s two-run lead moments before.
St. Louis had the game tied for three middle innings as Matt Holliday took Lester deep and out to center field in the fourth to knot the game, 1-1. Carlos Beltran nearly followed up Holliday’s blast with one of his own but Jonny Gomes tracked it down just in front of the wall in left.
The Red Sox struck first in Game 5 with Dustin Pedroia doubling to left and David Ortiz doubling to right. Pedroia scored off of Ortiz’s knock, putting Boston up 1-0 in the first.
John Lackey will get the start for the Red Sox in Game 6 at Fenway Park Wednesday (8:07 p.m., FOX). Lackey threw 17 pitches in relief in Game 4. Michael Wacha will be fresh for St. Louis, not having pitched since last Thursday in Game 2. Wacha was sensational last week for the birds, working 6.0 innings and allowing just three hits while striking out six.
What they'll be saying: The Red Sox have to win one more game in this improbable season to call themselves champs. They'll have two chances (the second, if needed) to do so at Fenway Park. At this point, if the Sox didn't put the bow on this worst-to-first season, it would be a disappointment.
Game 5 was the same old story for Boston, with Jon Lester proving once again that he is money in October and the Red Sox finding a new hero on offense. It was Ross' turn Monday night as his hit down the left field line proved to be the game-winner. Boston will look to use that familiar formula again Wednesday night in Game 6.
Follow Metro Boston sports editor Matt Burke on Twitter @BurkeMetroBOS