Published October 31, 2013
Shane Victorino's three-run double broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the third inning and John Lackey allowed one run over 6 and 2/3 innings as the Boston Red Sox wrapped up their eighth World Series title in franchise history and third in 10 seasons with a 6-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.
The win completed a remarkable turnaround for the Red Sox, who finished last in the American League East with a record of 69-93 in 2012, but won 97 games under first-year manager John Farrell and defeated the Tampa Bay Rays and Detroit Tigers to reach their first World Series since 2007.
After Victorino's double off the Green Monster gave Boston a 3-0 lead, the Red Sox tacked on three more runs in the fourth inning. Stephen Drew made the score 4-0 with a solo home run into the Boston bullpen. Mike Napoli made it 5-0 with an RBI single before Victorino drove in his fourth run of the night with a single to make it 6-0.
Lackey, the much-maligned right-hander who missed all of 2012 due to Tommy John surgery, scattered nine hits over his outing and walked only one, while striking out five. He departed with the bases loaded and two out in the top of the seventh, having lost his shutout bid on a Carlos Beltran RBI single. Junichi Tazawa retired Matt Holliday on a groundout to first to end the threat.
With fans roaring on every pitch and cameras flashing, Koji Uehara struck out Matt Carpenter for the final out. The Japanese pitcher jumped into the arms of catcher David Ross while Red Sox players rushed from the dugout and bullpen as the Boston theme "Dirty Water" played on the public-address system.
And the Red Sox didn't have to fly the trophy home. For the first time since Babe Ruth's team back in 1918, Boston won the title at Fenway Park. The 101-year-old ballpark, oldest in the majors, was packed with 38,447 singing, shouting fans anticipating a celebration 95 years in the making.
There wasn't the cowboy-up comeback charm of "The Idiots" from 2004, who swept St. Louis to end an 86-year title drought. There wasn't that cool efficiency of the 2007 team that swept Colorado.
This time, they were Boston Strong -- playing for a city shaken by the marathon bombings in April.
After late-season slumps in 2010 and 2011, the embarrassing revelations of a chicken-and-beer clubhouse culture that contributed to the ouster of manager Terry Francona, and the daily tumult of Bobby Valentine's one-year flop, these Red Sox grew on fans.
Just like the long whiskers on the players' faces, starting with Jonny Gomes' scruffy spring training beard.
Across the Northeast, from Connecticut's Housatonic River up to the Aroostook in Maine, Boston's eighth championship will be remembered for all the beard-yanking bonding.
David Ortiz, the MVP of the World Series and the only player remaining from the 2004 champs, had a Ruthian World Series. He batted .688 (11 for 16) with two homers, six RBIs and eight walks -- including four in the finale -- for a .760 on-base percentage in 25 plate appearances.
Boston was a 30-1 underdog to win the World Series last winter but joined the 1991 Minnesota Twins as the only teams to win titles one season after finishing in last place. Now, the Red Sox will raise another championship flag before their home opener next season April 4 against Milwaukee.
The Red Sox had not played a Series Game 6 since that infamous night at New York's Shea Stadium in 1986, when Bill Buckner allowed Mookie Wilson's 10th-inning roller to get through his legs. And there had not been one at Fenway since Fisk's 12th-inning home run off the foul pole atop the Green Monster.
Following consecutive late-season skids, the Red Sox parted with Francona at the end of the 2011 season and reports emerged of players drinking beer and eating fried chicken in the clubhouse during games.
Valentine took over as manager, injuries caused Boston to use a club-record 56 players, and the Red Sox skidded to a 69-93 record, their poorest since 1965.
John Farrell, Boston's pitching coach from 2007-10, was hired after a pair of seasons as Toronto's manager.
A roster turnover began in August 2012 when Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and their big-money contracts were traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a deal that saved Boston just more than $261.66 million through 2018. The Red Sox restocked during the offseason by signing seven major league free agents for contracts of three years or fewer at a total of $100.45 million: Victorino, Napoli, Gomes, Drew, Uehara, Ryan Dempster and Ross.
After losing closers Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey to injuries early in the season, the Red Sox remained relatively healthy: Seventeen players wound up on the DL, down from 27. They finished 97-65 -- matching St. Louis for the best record in the major leagues -- and made the playoffs for the first time since 2009. They also became the first team since the 2005 Cardinals to navigate the season without losing more than three in a row.
After falling behind 2-1 in the Series, the Red Sox ended with three straight wins.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.