BOSTON — Just when it seemed Michael Wacha had cracked, the St. Louis Cardinals began scooting around the bases and tied the World Series.
Wacha beat John Lackey in a matchup of present and past rookie sensations, and this time it was the Cardinals’ turn to take advantage of sloppy fielding as St. Louis topped the Boston Red Sox 4-2 Thursday night to even the Series at a game apiece.
David Ortiz put Boston ahead in the sixth inning with a two-run homer just over the Green Monster in left, ending Wacha’s scoreless streak at 182
3 innings — a rookie record for a single postseason.
But then Lackey, who in 2002 with the Angels became the first rookie in 93 years to win Game 7 of a World Series, faltered in a three-run seventh. St. Louis went ahead when Matt Carpenter hit a sacrifice fly that led to a pair of runs, with the second scoring on errors by catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and reliever Craig Breslow.
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Carlos Beltran, back in the lineup after bruising ribs in the opener, followed with an RBI single.
“I wanted to be in the lineup. I worked so hard to get to this point,” Beltran said. “Somebody would have to kill me in order for me to be out of the lineup.”
Wacha, a 22-year-old right-hander, wasn’t quite as sharp and allowed two runs, three hits and four walks in six innings with six strikeouts. But he improved to 4-0 in four outings this postseason, matching the amount of regular-season wins he has in his brief career.
“He pitched outstanding,” Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina said. “Just one pitch, to a great hitter like Big Papi. We take our hat off to him, but I mean, he pitched good tonight.”
His parents and sister made the trip from Texarkana, Texas, and sat bundled in cold-weather clothes in the stands to watch Wacha, the 19th pick in last year’s amateur draft.
The Cardinals’ hard-throwing bullpen combined for one-hit relief, with Trevor Rosenthal striking out all three batters in the ninth for a save. He whiffed Daniel Nava with a 99 mph fastball to end it.
All three St. Louis pitchers Thursday night were 23 or younger.
“It doesn’t surprise me. Those guys got talent,” Molina said. “Like I said many times before, they’re not afraid to pitch.”
Seeking its second World Series title in three seasons, St. Louis improved to 7-0 this postseason when scoring first.
A few hours before the game, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny wasn’t even certain Beltran would be able to play. The eight-time All-Star was sent to a hospital for scans Wednesday night after bruising ribs while banging into the right-field fence to rob Ortiz of a grand slam. Beltran said he was given painkillers, and he appeared to be wearing protective padding.
Ortiz’s home run was his 17th career postseason homer and fifth this October.
The Series now heads to St. Louis for three games.
• The Red Sox had not lost in the World Series since Game 7 in 1986 against the Mets.
• With the loss of the designated hitter in the National League city, Red Sox manager John Farrell said Ortiz will likely play first base in Game 3. Mike Napoli would sit.
• Victims of the Boston Marathon bombings were honored during the seventh-inning stretch as singer James Taylor led the crowd in “America the Beautiful.”