Every time David Ortiz came up to bat Thursday night, Michael Wacha made it a point to stay far away from the Red Sox slugger, careful not to leave any pitches over the inside half of the plate.
The Cardinals rookie constantly challenged Ortiz to chase his changeup. In the bottom of the sixth inning with one out, Ortiz saw a pair of fastballs and then three changeups as he worked a full count.
The Cardinals were clinging to a one-run lead, but Dustin Pedroia was on first. Wacha left the fourth straight changeup high and outside and Ortiz sent it sailing into the Monster seats for a two-run go-ahead home run.
“It’s not a secret for anyone that they have great pitching,” Ortiz said. “When you aren’t able to score some runs off the guy, you just try to keep up with him.”
The lead was short-lived as the Cardinals piled on three runs in the top of the seventh on their way to a 4-2 victory to tie the World Series, 1-1.
“With this lineup that Boston has, you can’t make mistakes or they’ll make you pay,” said Wacha, who picked up the win, his fourth of the postseason. “A good hitter like Ortiz, I made a mistake, 3-2 changeup up in the zone, and he made me pay.
“I was pretty mad coming in. But [Yadier Molina] came up and was like, ‘Don’t worry. We’re going to score in the top of the seventh.’ ”
Entering Game 2, the Red Sox had won their last nine World Series games, a streak that began with the Cardinals in 2004. But Ortiz didn’t focus too much on the fact that it was the team’s first game lost in the World Series since he joined the club.
“The series is still going on, it’s 1-1,” Ortiz said. “We have to go out there and play better than we did tonight. There’s nothing you can do about it. It’s part of the game. This is baseball. You’re playing against the best team in the National League.”
Ortiz, who also singled off Carlos Martinez in the eighth inning, said he was able to adjust against Wacha’s approach after his first two at-bats.
In his first turn, leading off the second, Ortiz saw a fastball for a ball, and then grounded out on the third straight change from Wacha.
In the fourth inning, Ortiz followed Dustin Pedroia, who hit a leadoff double. Despite falling behind 3 and 0, Wacha offered two more changeups — one for a strike and one that walked Ortiz.
“My at-bat before, he got me 3-0 and he threw me changeups back to back, so I knew the idea,” Ortiz said.
The Red Sox are off Friday and then have three consecutive games at Busch Stadium. While playing at the National League park, the Red Sox will be forced to play without a designated hitter, meaning Ortiz or Mike Napoli will be out of the lineup at some point.
But Ortiz, who was robbed of a grand slam and hit a two-run homer in Boston’s 8-1 Game 1 rout, has been hot at the plate and manager John Farrell indicated that he will start Game 3 at first base.
“And how we go from there, we’ll go to it day to day,’’ Farrell said. “But again we’re going to lose one of the middle-of-the-order bats, and that’s understood going in. But still David’s in a pretty good place right now offensively.”