BOSTON – Shane Victorino's stiff back is feeling better, so Red Sox manager John Farrell plans to start him when Boston tries to win the World Series championship in Game 6.
Boston leads the St. Louis Cardinals 3-2 going into Wednesday night.
The right fielder missed the last two games, and the Red Sox won without him. In Game 4, Jonny Gomes hit a three-run homer in a 4-2 win after Victorino was a late scratch from the lineup.
Victorino also sat out Monday night's 3-1 victory, although his back wasn't as stiff as it had been.
"He was available last night," Farrell said Tuesday at Fenway Park. "He wasn't restricted to defense only or at the plate only. We fully expect him to be full go tomorrow."
Victorino is having a rough Series at 0 for 10.
Farrell also said David Ross would start his second straight game at catcher instead of regular Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Ross, known for his handling of pitchers rather than his hitting, had a tiebreaking double in the seventh inning of Game 5.
"David has given us a spark offensively out of the position. And that's not to be disrespectful to Salty in any way," Farrell said. "And, at the same time, David has done a great job running the game from a game-calling perspective."
Ross is 3 for 12 with six strikeouts in three games. Saltalamacchia is hitless in six at-bats with four strikeouts in the other two games.
STACKING THE CARDS: St. Louis manager Mike Matheny expects to have banged-up Allen Craig in the lineup for Game 6.
Craig missed more than a month because of a sprained left foot before returning for the World Series. The cleanup man and first baseman was the designated hitter for the first two games in Boston, and started one game in the field at St. Louis.
Craig is 4 for 12 in the Series. He doubled and scored the winning run on an obstruction call in Game 3, then later was held to a single when he hit a ball to the wall at Busch Stadium.
"I had a quick conversation with him. He said he felt good today. So that was a great response and what we wanted to hear," Matheny said.
Matheny said he was still deciding where to put Carlos Beltran in the lineup. Beltran has hit in both the second and fourth slots.
"It could go either way. Running through multiple lineups. Many of them just on paper, scratching all over the place," Matheny said.
"We realize that this game comes down to the guys performing, but we do have a responsibility to put them in a position to give our team the best chance of success. And Carlos is one of those guys that can fill a number of roles," he said.
THEN AND NOW: Red Sox manager John Farrell said he's always enjoyed the atmosphere at Fenway Park. Standing on the mound, that was a different story.
"I pitched here, good and bad," he recalled Tuesday. "There's been days when you wind up, you feel like The Wall is moving in as you're making your delivery."
The 51-year-old Farrell was 36-46 in eight seasons with Cleveland, the Angels and Detroit. He went 1-4 with a 6.68 ERA in five starts at Boston, winning as a rookie in 1987 and giving up two home runs to John Valentin in 1993 in his Fenway finale.
"And yet the environment that's in here to me is second to none. In June it's a playoff atmosphere," Farrell said. "The expectations of the fans keep our guys accountable to bring their 'A' game every night."
Game 6 starter John Lackey acknowledged it's a tough ballpark for pitchers.
"It's not a real great place to pitch. Obviously, with the left-field wall being so close and the right-field pole being even closer, it can definitely pose some challenges," he said.
HOOPS, ANYONE? Saint Louis University is keeping an eye on the Cardinals.
The men's basketball team is ready to open its exhibition season by hosting Fontbonne on Thursday night. But that also could be the night of Game 7 in the World Series.
The Billikens said their game will start at 5 p.m. if baseball is being played. If there's no World Series game, the hoops will begin as scheduled at 7 p.m.