The Red Sox had their hero for Game 2 of the World Series on Thursday night all lined up. It was to be David Ortiz, whose home run in the sixth inning gave the Sox a lead against the St. Louis Cardinals.
John Lackey was pitching another terrific game and had the lockdown Red Sox bullpen behind him.
But the Sox slipped, a series of mistakes leading to the Cardinals scoring three runs in the seventh inning and escaping Fenway Park with a 4-2 victory.
The Series is tied 1-1 with Game 3 Saturday night in St. Louis. The Red Sox will start Jake Peavy with Joe Kelly going for the Cardinals.
St. Louis starter Michael Wacha and two relievers held the Red Sox to four hits.
Wacha, a 22-year-old rookie selected in the first round of the 2012 draft out of Texas A&M, allowed two runs on three hits over six innings. He walked four and struck out six.
Unlike the Red Sox, the St. Louis bullpen did its job as two other rookies shut down the Sox. Carlos Martinez threw two scoreless innings before hard-throwing Trevor Rosenthal picked up his fourth postseason save by striking out the side in order in the ninth.
His final pitch was a 99-mile-per-hour fastball that pinch hitter Daniel Nava swung through. The crowd of 38,436 sighed and fled into the chilly night.
The Sox put two runners in the eighth inning as Jacoby Ellsbury reached on an error and Ortiz singled with two outs. But Mike Napoli, who had a three-run double in Game 1, popped to shortstop.
The Sox struck out 12 times in the game. After a sloppy Game 1, the Cardinals head home with a split.
Wacha was the most valuable player of the National League Championship Series after beating the Dodgers twice. Over 21 postseason innings, he had allowed one run on eight hits with four walks and 22 strikeouts.
For five innings, Wacha matched that impossible standard as the Red Sox managed only two hits.
The Cardinals had taken a 1-0 lead on Lackey by that point, their first lead against the Red Sox in six World Series games dating to 2004.
Matt Holliday tripled to the triangle in center field to lead off the fourth inning. Dustin Pedroia made a diving grab of a line drive off the bat of Matt Adams to save a run. But when Yadier Molina grounded slowly to second base, Pedroia’s only play was to first base and Holliday scored.
The Sox didn’t have a threat until the bottom of the fourth when Pedroia doubled off the wall in left and Ortiz walked. But Wacha needed only five pitches to end the rally as Napoli grounded into a double play and Jonny Gomes popped to second.
The Sox got a leadoff walk from Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the fifth inning but that was it.
Pedroia walked with one out in the sixth inning. Ortiz was next and Wacha started him with two fastballs. With a 1-and-1 count, four changeups followed. A full-count pitch was up and out of the plate and Ortiz stayed with the pitch, driving it the other way.
As Pedroia tore around the bases, the ball kept rising and landed in the Monster Seats.
It was the fifth home run of the postseason by Ortiz, matching the team record he first tied in 2004.
Todd Walker also hit five in 2003.
Ortiz has hit 17 postseason home runs in his career. His 59 RBIs in the postseason are fifth in history.
Lackey took the mound in the seventh inning with a 2-1 lead and struck out Allen Craig. The Sox were seven outs away from a win.
But David Freese walked and John Jay singled to right. With Lackey at 95 pitches, Red Sox manager John Farrell called in one of his most reliable relievers, lefthander Craig Breslow.
After an uncontested double steal, Breslow walked Daniel Descalso to load the bases.
Matt Carpenter followed with a sacrifice fly to left field. Pete Kozma, who had come in to run for Freese, scored as the ball rolled away from Saltalamacchia.
Breslow, who was backing up the play, threw the ball to third to try and get Jay. The ball sailed over the head of Stephen Drew and bounced into the stands. Jay scored and Descalso went to third.
Saltalamacchia and Breslow were charged with errors on the play.
Carlos Beltran, who stayed in the St. Louis lineup despite bruised ribs that caused him to leave Game 1, singled to make it 4-2.
Lackey was charged with three runs over 6⅓ innings. He allowed five hits, walked two, and struck out six.Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.