ST. LOUIS — Jon Lester smothered St. Louis on four hits into the eighth, David Ross hit a tiebreaking RBI double in a two-run seventh inning off Adam Wainwright and the Boston Red Sox beat the Cardinals 3-1 last night to take a 3-2 World Series lead.
David Ortiz’s RBI double in the first put the Red Sox ahead until Matt Holliday hit his second home run of the Series in the fourth, ending a 161/3 inning Series scoreless streak for Lester dating to 2007.
In a rematch of the opener, won by the Red Sox 8-1, Lester again beat Wainwright, striking out seven and walking one in 72/3 innings. Koji Uehara got four outs to finish the four-hitter for his second save.
Boston can win its third title in a decade tomorrow night, when the Series resumes at Fenway Park — where the Red Sox haven’t won a championship on their home field since 1918. John Lackey starts for Boston and rookie Michael Wacha for St. Louis in a rematch of Game 2, won by the Cardinals 4-2.
A pair of unique endings — the first postseason games to finish with an obstruction call and a pickoff — left players wondering what strange events would be next. They did know the Series would go back to Boston’s Fenway Park on Wednesday night, when John Lackey starts for the Red Sox and rookie Michael Wacha for the Cardinals. Wacha got the victory and Lackey the loss in Game 2, won by the Cardinals 4-2.
In the 42 previous times the Series has been tied 2-2, the Game 5 winner has gone on to take the title 27 times — but just three of the last 10.
Wainwright fell behind nine pitches in. Dustin Pedroia doubled with one out, sending a hanging curveball into left field. Ortiz pulled the next pitch between Allen Craig and first base and down the right field line.
Xander Bogaerts singled with one in the seventh and Stephen Drew walked. Ross then hit a ground-rule double to left field for the 2-1 lead. An out later, Ellsbury singled to center, scoring Drew. But Ross was thrown at home plate to end the inning.
Wainwright allowed all three runs and eight hits in seven innings with 10 strikeouts and a walk.
Ortiz is batting .733 (11 for 15) in the Series with two homers and six RBIs. His six hits in six straight at-bats were one shy of the record, set by the New York Yankees’ Thurman Munson (1976-77) and matched by Cincinnati’s Billy Hatcher (1990). With three walks added in, Ortiz tied the record for most consecutive plate appearances reaching by a hit, walk or hit batter, set by Hatcher.
Allen Craig was not in the Cardinals’ original lineup and was a surprise starter at first base in place of the slumping Matt Adams. Craig sprained a ligament in his left foot last month and had not played in the field since Sept. 4. Carlos Beltran was moved down two spots in the order to cleanup.
Boston right fielder Shane Victorino was out of the starting lineup for the second straight night because of lower back stiffness. Jonny Gomes, Victorino’s replacement in the batting order, hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the 4-2 Red Sox win Sunday and was moved up a spot to cleanup. Ortiz was bumped up to third.
The Red Sox won their last World Series title exactly six years earlier, and St. Louis won Game 7 at home on the same date in 2011.
With the Lions hosting Seattle at the nearby Edward Jones Dome, the World Series and an NFL Monday night were played in the same area on the same night for the first time since Boston lost Game 7 of the 1986 Series at the New York Mets. The NFL Giants hosted Washington that evening at Giants Stadium.
NOTES: Boston batters easily broke the record for strikeouts in a postseason. They began the night with 142, tying the mark set by the 2010 San Francisco Giants.