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Red Sox Win the Pole

Times Staff Writer

Buckle up, folks, because this ride through the 100th World Series could be a bumpy one, filled with chills, thrills and spills -- did you see St. Louis pinch-runner Jason Marquis take a digger going into second base and Boston left fielder and resident flake Manny Ramirez fall all over himself trying to catch a fly ball in the eighth inning Saturday night?

But what the Red Sox and Cardinals lacked in style -- they combined for five errors and 14 walks in Game 1 on the wind-blown tundra that was Fenway Park -- they more than made up for in drama.

After St. Louis erased a five-run, third-inning deficit and a two-run, seventh-inning deficit, Boston second baseman Mark Bellhorn drove a two-run home run off the right-field foul pole in the bottom of the eighth to lift the Red Sox to an 11-9 victory in front of a chilled-to-the-bone crowd of 35,035.

Boston closer Keith Foulke, who escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the top of the eighth by getting Cardinal cleanup batter Scott Rolen to pop out to third and striking out Jim Edmonds, gave up a one-out double to Marlon Anderson in the ninth but retired Yadier Molina on an infield pop and struck out Roger Cedeno to end the game.

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The series now sets up nicely for Boston, which has its top two starters, Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez, going in Game 2 tonight and Game 3 Tuesday night in St. Louis, but the Red Sox can’t afford to commit four errors and walk six and expect to win games as they did Saturday night.

“That was not a video to send to the instructional league or something,” Red Sox Manager Terry Francona said. “We did some things wrong, but we persevered and we won. We set out to win today, so it’s really a great day, but we did make some mistakes that we need to clean up.”

As ugly as it got at times -- Ramirez committed two eighth-inning errors that led to two Cardinal runs, and first baseman Kevin Millar’s error, a wild relay past third, keyed St. Louis’ three-run fourth -- the Red Sox dugout was filled with good vibes throughout the evening.

“We had a feeling on the bench we were going to get a win someway, somehow,” center fielder Johnny Damon said. “We battled through some mistakes, fought through some adversity and survived Larry Walker [Cardinal right fielder who had four hits] hitting everything in sight. Hopefully, we’ll clean it up [tonight].”

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Bellhorn, who struggled so much during the American League championship series that he was booed in his home park, made sure the ending wasn’t messy. With the score tied, 9-9, and Jason Varitek aboard on an error, Bellhorn hit a 1-and-2 slider from reliever Julian Tavarez off the foul pole for a two-run homer.

Bellhorn also had the decisive three-run homer in Game 6 of the ALCS against the Yankees and he ripped a homer off the right-field foul pole in Game 7 against the Yankees, giving him home runs in three consecutive postseason games.

“I think we forget that the mind is a powerful thing and sometimes we just lose our confidence,” said Bellhorn, who batted ninth Saturday night.

“You know, these games, you want to win so bad that you sometimes put too much pressure on yourself, and that’s when you start to struggle. You’ve just got to battle through it.”

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St. Louis had tied the score, 9-9, in the top of the eighth thanks to Ramirez, who butchered two balls in left. With runners on first and second, Ramirez bobbled Edgar Renteria’s routine single, and Marquis, who stopped at third, came home

Walker, who had two doubles, a home run and a single in his first four at-bats, followed with a fly to shallow left.

Ramirez tried a sliding catch when he didn’t really need to, his left knee stuck to the ground like a lawn dart, and the ball bounced off his glove toward foul territory, allowing the tying run to score and the Cardinals to put runners on second and third with one out.

Foulke walked Albert Pujols intentionally to load the bases before retiring Rolen, who was hitless in five at-bats and bounced into a double play, and Edmonds.

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“We brush a lot of things off in here,” Millar said. “I mean, my throwing error was ridiculous. I almost hit [Cardinal Manager] Tony La Russa in the dugout. Manny, he was joking that he went from a Silver Glove to a Purple Glove. I went from a Bronze Glove to a Green Glove. But we pick each other up, and we pulled out a win.”

It looked like it would be easy way back in the first inning, four hours before the final pitch.

The Red Sox, in search of their first World Series championship since 1918, seemed intent on unloading 85 years of frustration on the Cardinals in the first when they scored four runs, as Damon led off with a double, Orlando Cabrera was hit by a pitch and ALCS most valuable player David Ortiz hit a three-run homer to right.

Millar hit starter Woody Williams’ next pitch off the Green Monster for a double and scored on Bill Mueller’s single, giving the Red Sox a 4-0 lead.

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Cardinal runs in the second (Mike Matheny sacrifice fly) and third (Walker solo home run) innings cut the lead in half, but Boston busted out for three more runs in the third when Damon and Cabrera hit run-scoring singles and Ramirez, who did not have an RBI in the ALCS, added a run-scoring fielder’s choice to make it 7-2.

Then the Red Sox bumbled their way through the fourth, as the Cardinals scored three runs on just one hit to pull within 7-5. Boston starter Tim Wakefield, unable to control his knuckleball on a 49-degree night with winds whipping at 21 mph, walked the first three batters of the fourth, and Matheny lifted a sacrifice fly to shallow right.

Red Sox right fielder Trot Nixon hit the cutoff man on his throw home, and an accurate throw to third would have nailed Reggie Sanders by 10 feet. But Millar had trouble getting the ball out of his glove and bounced his throw past third and into the dugout, allowing Sanders to score and Tony Womack to take third.

Womack then scored on So Taguchi’s grounder to third. After Wakefield’s walk to Renteria, Francona summoned Bronson Arroyo, who got Pujols to ground to short.

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Arroyo retired the side in order in the fifth but ran into trouble in the sixth, when he threw wildly past first on Taguchi’s two-out infield single, allowing Taguchi to take second, and gave up run-scoring doubles to Renteria and Walker to tie the score, 7-7.

“It was one of those nights,” Millar said, “but we got lucky.”

*(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Runs Amok

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The most runs scored by both teams in a World Series game, with final score, game number and year:

*--* 29 Toronto 15, Philadelphia 14 Game 4 1993 25 Florida 14, Cleveland 11 Game 3 1997 22 N.Y. Yankees 18, N.Y. Giants 4 Game 2 1936 21 Angels 11, San Francisco 10 Game 2 2002 21 Brooklyn 13, N.Y. 8 Game 2 1956 20 Boston 11, St. Louis 9 Game 1 2004 20 San Francisco 16, Angels 4 Game 5 2002 20 Oakland 13, San Francisco 7 Game 3 1989 19 N.Y. Yankees 13, Chic. Cubs 6 Game 4 1932 19 N.Y. Yankees 16, Pittsburgh 3 Game 2 1960 19 Pittsburgh 10, N.Y. Yankees 9 Game 7 1960 19 Atlanta 14, Minnesota 5 Game 5 1991

*--*

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Quick Hitters

Players who homered in their first World Series at-bat:

*--* Player Team Year David Ortiz Boston 2004 Troy Glaus Angels 2002 Barry Bonds San Francisco 2002 x-Andruw Jones Atlanta 1996 Fred McGriff Atlanta 1995 Ed Sprague Toronto 1992 Eric Davis Cincinnati 1990 Bill Bathe San Francisco 1989 Jose Canseco Oakland 1988 Mickey Hatcher Dodgers 1988 Jim Dwyer Baltimore 1983 Bob Watson New York Yankees 1981 Amos Otis Kansas City 1980 Doug DeCinces Baltimore 1979 Jim Mason New York Yankees 1976 x-Gene Tenace Oakland 1972 Don Buford Baltimore 1969 Mickey Lolich Detroit 1968 Jose Santiago Boston 1967 Brooks Robinson Baltimore 1966 Don Mincher Minnesota 1965 Roger Maris New York Yankees 1960 Elston Howard New York Yankees 1955 Dusty Rhodes New York Giants 1954 George Selkirk New York Yankees 1936 Mel Ott New York Giants 1933 George Watkins St. Louis Cardinals 1930 Joe Harris Washington 1925

*--*

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x-homered in first two at-bats


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