Share this article

print logo

TRIAL AND ERROR WORKS FOR SOX <br> BOSTON AGAIN OVERCOMES SLOPPY FIELDING TO TAKE 2-0 LEAD

Maybe the Bambino isn't going to show up. Because everything seems to be going the Red Sox's way.

Boston is halfway to ending its 86-year curse without a championship after a bizarre weekend in chilly Fenway Park. Sunday's 6-2 win gave the Sox a commanding 2-0 lead in the 100th World Series as it heads back to St. Louis.

The Sox have made eight errors, four in each game, but they haven't proved to be a big factor. Curt Schilling woke up Sunday morning convinced his injured ankle wouldn't let him pitch in Game Two, but he somehow answered the call and didn't give up an earned run in six innings. The offense came up with three two-out hits to produce all six runs.

"We're swinging the bats well enough that the errors aren't costing us," first baseman Kevin Millar said. "Schilling picked us up. That's a pitcher's job. He made good pitches when we needed them."

"We feel fortunate to be up, two-zip, regardless of the errors," Sox outfielder Johnny Damon said. "We're not going to remember them. The game's over and we won. Now we know we have to play better defensively, but we feel good."

Schilling left his blood on the field for the second straight start, allowing just one run in six innings -- and it was unearned. He struck out four, walked one and persevered through 94 pitches.

Several of them got the Sox out of hot spots created by third baseman Bill Mueller's Series record-tying three errors. Until Saturday night, no team had committed four errors in a Series game since the Milwaukee Brewers did it in Game Six of the '82 Series at St. Louis in a contest they lost, 13-1. No one had made four errors and won since the 1952 Yankees survived Game Seven against the Giants.

Now the Red Sox have made four twice in two nights -- and won both times.

"Maybe four is our lucky number," cracked manager Terry Francona. "I'd like to try playing without it, though."

Of course, few teams in history have had someone such as Schilling on the mound battling to overcome his body and his team's adversity. With pain shooting through his injured ankle, Schilling arrived at the park Sunday morning thinking there was no way he could pitch. But after a stitch was removed from the dislocated tendon, he began to feel better.

By the first pitch at 8:17 p.m., he was on the mound.

"He did a great job," catcher Jason Varitek said. "We got some balls hit at people in some early situations, and that was big. Curt located and stayed within himself with what he had to work with. Curt is such a big part of this team that we're thankful he can take the ball at this point."

A crowd of 35,001 braved temperatures in the mid-40s, intermittent drizzle and a stiff 20-mph breeze. But the fans could not have cared less about sitting through the crummy New England weather. They were parading through the concourse afterward chanting, "54 more outs, 54 more outs."

According to history, the Red Sox are golden. But after all, these are the Red Sox. So everyone in these parts is understandably wary as the proceedings shift to Busch Stadium in St. Louis for Game Three on Tuesday night.

Still, 37 of the 48 teams that have taken a 2-0 lead in a World Series have won the title. Ten of the last 11 times such a lead has been built, the deal was sealed. The lone exception was the 1996 Atlanta Braves, who lost in six games to the Yankees.

Home teams are 28-5 when winning the first two games -- and have won the last nine times they've gotten a quick jump. The last team to take the first two at home and not pop the champagne was the 1981 Yankees (who lost in six games to the Dodgers).

Of course, Boston has been here before. It had a 2-0 lead over the New York Mets in 1986 after winning the first two games in Shea Stadium. If you need a recitation of the details from that point, you're reading the wrong section.

"We know how momentum in a series can change in a heartbeat," Damon said. "We've certainly learned all about that against the Yankees (in the American League Championship Series). We're happy with the situation we're in, but we know it will be a much different situation in St. Louis."

Varitek had the first big swing in Boston's sixth straight postseason win. Following first-inning walks to Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz by Cardinals starter Matt Morris, Varitek's two-out, two-run triple to the deepest part of center field made it 2-0. It was the first three-bagger by a catcher in Series play since Joe Girardi's first-inning shot sent the Yankees on their way in the Game Six clincher over Atlanta in 1996.

"I was just battling with two strikes and got the barrel on the ball," Varitek said. "It's not complicated. We're just trying to not give away at-bats, no matter what the count is."

"One of the hardest balls he's hit all year," Millar said.

Mark Bellhorn cracked a two-run double to center in the fourth for a 4-1 lead, and Orlando Cabrera touched reliever Cal Eldred with a two-run single high off the Green Monster in the sixth to give the Sox a five-run advantage.

"I beat around the bush with my pitches and gave them too many good counts to hit," Morris said. "They are good situational hitters, a little more aggressive with me on base. And when you put yourself in a hole, it makes it tougher."

The Cardinals' only runs came on a Mueller error in the fourth and a Scott Rolen sacrifice fly in the eighth. Larry Walker, Albert Pujols, Rolen and Jim Edmonds are just 8 for 32.

That had better change quickly for the Cards. Otherwise, there's going to be one huge tea party in Boston later this week.

BOOT HILL
Three errors in a World Series game
PlayerTeam Pos.Year
Bill MuellerBoston 3B2004
Davey LopesLos Angeles 2B1981
Willie DavisLos Angeles OF1966
Pepper MartinSt.L. (NL) 3B1934
Buddy MyerWashington 2B1933
Buck WeaverChi. (AL) SS1917
Art FletcherN.Y. (NL) SS1912
Jack BarryPhil. (AL) SS1911
Buck HerzogN.Y. (NL) 3B1911
Danny MurphyPhil.(AL) 2B1905

e-mail: mharrington@buffnews.com

There are no comments - be the first to comment