Surprisingly sloppy defense by the Red Sox was a major factor in the loss.
In the top of the seventh, holding a 2-1 lead, reliever Craig Breslow imploded.
Coming in after a strong performance from starter John Lackey, Breslow promptly walked shortstop Daniel Descalso after a double steal by pinch runner Peter Kozma and center fielder John Jay.
Matt Carpenter hit a sacrifice fly to left that scored the tying run in Kozma, but all hell broke loose after the throw home.
Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia booted Jonny Gomes relay throw home, allowing Jay to move to third, then Breslow overthrew third baseman Xander Bogaerts in an effort to get Jay.
As the throw went into the stands, Jay was awarded home and the Cardinals took the lead for good.
As the series heads west for the middle three games, here are things to file away:
–Lackey and Cards starter Michael Wacha delivered the goods.
Bet your bottom dollar we see these two face off again next Wednesday night in Boston for Game 6.
–Wacha answered his doubters on whether nerves or being unfamiliar with Fenway might derail his game.
Even as the Sox worked his pitch count, Wacha’s lone mistake was a sixth-inning homer to David Otiz that scored both of Boston’s runs.
In six innings, Wacha scattered three hits and fanned six.
He was drafted last year. You rarely see someone make the jump that soon that smoothly.
–Wacha did have command issues.
Boston hitters forced four walks and drew three-ball counts on a number of other occasions.
He made adjustments when he needed to, but so did Sox hitters.
–Manager John Farrell should not be questioned for removing Lackey.
With two on and one out in the seventh, it was time and the bullpen had delivered all postseason.
–Having said that, Breslow’s wildness and trying to compensate on the sac fly cost Boston the game.
Sometimes, it is best just to eat the ball.
–Carlos Beltran went two-for-four, bad ribs and all.
–Watching Matt Holliday’s triple, we forget how big the outfield is at Fenway.
A speedier runner would have scored on the carom.
–After watching Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal lock down Game 2, this is the best bullpen the Sox have seen in a month.
If they are going to win the series, they need to do damage to the Cardinal starters as that pen shows no fear.
–Another bad night at the plate for Shane Victorino and Stephen Drew.
Combined, they went 0-for-seven with three strikeouts.
* * * *
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