- Associated Press - Thursday, October 24, 2013

BOSTON (AP) - A look at Game 2 of the World Series at Fenway Park on Thursday night as the St. Louis Cardinals take on the Boston Red Sox:


Trevor Rosenthal closes it out with 99 mph heat. Strikes out all three batters in the ninth on 11 pitches. Cardinals win 4-2 and tie World Series at one apiece. Game 3 is Saturday night in St. Louis.


HEADED TO THE NINTH: After two scoreless innings from setup man Carlos Martinez, the Cardinals take a 4-2 lead into the ninth.

Martinez worked around a leadoff error by second baseman Matt Carpenter in the eighth and retired Mike Napoli on an inning-ending popup with two on.

Hard-throwing rookie Trevor Rosenthal ready to try to close it out.


CARDINALS REGAIN LEAD: St. Louis chases John Lackey and scores three times in the seventh inning to take a 4-2 lead.

Two walks helped load the bases with one out, and Matt Carpenter tied it with a sacrifice fly to left field. The throw from Jonny Gomes got by catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but then Boston reliever Craig Breslow made a big mistake.

Breslow, backing up the play at the plate, threw high to third in an attempt to get Jon Jay. The ball sailed into the stands for an error, allowing Jay to score.

Breslow went to Yale. Smart guy, bad throw.

Carlos Beltran followed with an RBI single to make it 4-2, his second hit of the game _ this one from the right side. So much for those bruised ribs hindering him.

Michael Wacha stands to win again if the bullpen can hold it for St. Louis. Still 4-2 in the eighth.


BOSTON STRONG: The Red Sox saluted victims of the Boston Marathon bombings during the seventh-inning stretch. Several were on the field next to James Taylor, who sang “America the Beautiful.”


SENOR OCTOBER: Wacha finally shows some cracks in the armor. He has matched a career high with four walks tonight _ and it finally comes back to bite him when David Ortiz hits a two-run homer over the Green Monster in the sixth inning to give Boston a 2-1 lead.

It was Ortiz’s second homer in the first two games of the World Series and his fifth this postseason. If the nickname hadn’t gone to Reggie first, Big Papi would be Mr. October.


REGRETS, I’VE HAD A FEW: Good stuff a couple innings back from sideline reporter Ken Rosenthal on Fox about how on earth Wacha lasted until the 19th pick in last year’s draft.

Seven pitchers were selected before the Cardinals grabbed Wacha out of Texas A&M.

Rosenthal said he asked a few general managers exactly that, and they mentioned that Wacha didn’t have much of a breaking ball in college. Makes some sense, he pointed out, because that hasn’t really changed.

Wacha is a fastball-changeup guy, but those two pitches have been a dominant combination for him since he nearly pitched that no-hitter against Washington in his final regular-season start.

You can see, Wacha’s curveball tends to roll, and he doesn’t command it all that well. He shows it every once in a while, but doesn’t seem to rely on it much.

So, why is he so effective with mostly a two-pitch combination?

The key for him appears to be that sharp downward plane and late fastball life low in the strike zone that his 6-foot-6 frame generates. Very difficult to manufacture that late jump down in the zone. Pretty rare, and it has to come naturally. Wacha has it.

And so, when he keeps his changeup down, it’s real difficult for a hitter to decipher between the two. Heater jumps by you late, changeup fades toward the dirt and the hitter is out in front, swinging at a ball.

Rosenthal said the GMs he spoke to were taking another look at their evaluation of Wacha, perhaps wishing they would have rated him higher and trying to assess why they didn’t.


TURNING TWO: Big double play turned by the Cardinals to help Wacha in the fourth inning.

Pedroia leads off with a Wall ball that clangs loudly off the Green Monster scoreboard. Matt Holliday played it fairly well _ perhaps a good sign for St. Louis fans worried about how Holliday, a shaky defender at times, would adjust to left field in Fenway Park.

Pedroia slides easily into second with a double anyway, and David Ortiz walks. But then, Wacha gets Mike Napoli to ground into a 6-4-3 double play started by Daniel Descalso, starting at shortstop tonight instead of Pete Kozma, who made two errors in the opener.

Gomes pops out to end the inning. Cardinals lead 1-0 after four.


ON THE BOARD: Cardinals take a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning.

Holliday led off with a triple to the triangle in deep right-center. His drive hit the low wall by the bullpens and caromed away from center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, one of those odd angles and bounces at Fenway Park.

Matt Adams lined out to a diving Dustin Pedroia at second base, but Yadier Molina knocks in the run with a chopper over the mound. Pedroia looks home before throwing to first, making sure to get an out. Not an easy play.


BASE HIT: Ellsbury’s broken-bat single with two outs in the third inning is Boston’s first hit off Wacha. Ellsbury gets stranded when Shane Victorino flies out.


FORGOTTEN MAN: John Lackey has been overshadowed throughout this postseason. He faced David Price in the division series and then Justin Verlander in the ALCS.

Beat `em both.

Tonight, it’s rookie sensation Michael Wacha opposing Lackey on the mound. After flirting with a couple of no-hitters and going 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA in three playoff starts, Wacha has been receiving all sorts of fanfare. He recently walked into a restaurant in St. Louis and found a milkshake named after him on the menu.

Wacha has earned all the attention _ but don’t sleep on Lackey. He relishes a big-game challenge and has plenty of October success himself to draw on. After all, Lackey was a rookie in 2002 when he won Game 7 of the World Series for the Angels against Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants.

Now, it’s Wacha who is the rising young star and Lackey the crafty veteran who came back from Tommy John surgery this year.

One generation faces the next. Definitely one of the things that makes baseball _ all sports, really _ so much fun.

Game 2 is scoreless after 2 1/2 innings. Both pitchers appear to be on top of their game. Could be a tight duel all night at quiet Fenway.


BELTRAN BACK: Star outfielder Carlos Beltran felt good enough to start for the Cardinals, a day after he bruised his ribs while banging into the short bullpen wall to take away a grand slam from David Ortiz.

Beltran was batting second and back in right field. He singled in his first at-bat in front of a diving Jonny Gomes in left field.

Beltran waited his whole career to play in the World Series. He then struck out in the first inning Wednesday night, got hurt in the second and left in the third. Not quite the debut he hoped for.

He’s one of the best postseason players ever, and hoped to help the Cardinals bounce back from an embarrassing 8-1 loss in the opener.


LOOKING AT LESTER: A day after a reversed call by umpires created commotion, there was another ruckus before Game 2. This one involved the glove of Red Sox ace Jon Lester, and developed into a did-he-or-didn’t he deal.

A Cardinals minor league pitcher named Tyler Melling posted a screen shot on Twitter that showed a green substance in Lester’s mitt. Melling added: “Jon Lester using a little Vaseline inside the glove tonight?”

Shades of allegations against Detroit pitcher Kenny Rogers in the 2006 Series, right?

Anyhow, Lester insisted before Game 2 that he only uses rosin _ that he got no extra help in pitching 7 2-3 shutout innings in the opener.

Major League Baseball looked into the matter and said it couldn’t draw any conclusions from the video it studied.

“There were no complaints from the Cardinals and the umpires never detected anything indicating a foreign substance throughout the game,” MLB said in a statement.


MO-MENT: Mariano Rivera was honored _ again _ at Fenway Park _ again _ with the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award before Game 2 of the World Series.

Baseball’s career saves leader wore a suit and had his family with him on the field. Big Papi stood nearby clapping, and Rivera acknowledged the cheering crowd at Fenway.

Red Sox fans have been lauded several times for the class they’ve shown this year in saluting Rivera, who retired after the regular season. And that’s been warranted. Wonder, though, whether they would feel so warm and fuzzy about him if not for Boston’s big comeback in the 2004 AL championship series against Rivera and the rival New York Yankees.

Rivera’s signature entrance song, Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” played at Fenway when he was saluted on the field. A few minutes later, five-time Grammy Award winner James Taylor performed the national anthem.

The pregame pomp also included former Boston stars Pedro Martinez, Jason Varitek and others throwing out first pitches. David Ortiz presented the balls, then caught one of the pitches.


LINEUP CHANGE: Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma’s two errors in Game 1 earned him a spot on the St. Louis bench. Manager Mike Matheny tweaked his lineup, pulling Kozma and putting Daniel Descalso in his place.

Kozma has made several nifty pickups in the postseason and has developed a reputation for getting key hits. He’s also been on the wrong end of some kooky plays.

There’s not much time to get things right in October. So while Kozma settles down, Descalso is in there, batting ninth.

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