Yanks, Bosox on Deck for Decisive Game 7

The Red Sox (search) return to Yankee (search) Stadium for Game 7 of the AL championship series Wednesday night, walking past the sign for the 26 World Series titles New York has won since Boston won its last. Meanwhile, the Astros and Cardinals play Game 6 of the NL championship series Wednesday in St. Louis, with Houston holding a 3-2 lead and the home team winning each game.

Astros manager Phil Garner picked Pete Munro (4-7) to start, holding Roger Clemens for a possible Game 7 Thursday night or a start in the World Series opener Saturday night. Munro faces Matt Morris (15-10).

In the ALCS, Derek Lowe (14-12) will start for the Red Sox; Kevin Brown (10-6) is expected to go for the Yankees, with Javier Vazquez (14-10) also a possibility.

Boston moved within one win of the most shocking comeback in baseball postseason history Tuesday night, pulling into a 3-3 tie in a series that was three outs from a sweep just two days earlier.

For the second straight year, the Yankees and the Red Sox go to Game 7, a winner-take-all battle for the pennant between baseball's perennial pinstriped power and a Boston team desperately trying to win the World Series for the first time since 1918.

New York was ahead 3-0 in the series before blowing a ninth-inning lead in Game 4 at Fenway Park and losing in the 12th Sunday night. The Yankees led Game 5 in the eighth Monday, then lost that one, too, another 5-hour marathon that stretched on for 14 innings.

Of the 25 previous major league teams that fell behind 3-0 in a best-of-seven series, none had forced a Game 7. But back in the Bronx, where they wasted a four-run lead in Game 7 last year, the Red Sox broke through with a four-run fourth against Jon Lieber.

They got some help from Curt Schilling, pitching on a dislocated ankle tendon that forced him out of the opener. He smothered the Yankees by allowing one run over seven innings.

The team trying to reverse The Curse also benefited from two big reversed calls.

In the fourth, Mark Bellhorn hit a ball over the left-field wall that was at first ruled a ground-rule double before it was correctly changed to a three-run homer that made it 4-0.

Then in the eighth, after Miguel Cairo's double and Derek Jeter's RBI single off Bronson Arroyo pulled the Yankees to 4-2, Alex Rodriguez hit a ball between the mound and first. Arroyo picked it up and ran toward first, where just before the base the striding A-Rod slapped the ball away.

Jeter came all the way around to score as the ball bounced down the right-field line. After Boston manager Terry Francona came out to argue, the umpires huddled, discussed the play, then called Rodriguez out for interference and sent Jeter back to first.

Rodriguez raised both hands and put them on his helmet, screaming about the reversal, and the game was held up for 10 minutes while fans tossed debris on the field and Yankees manager Joe Torre argued. Gary Sheffield then fouled out, ending the inning.

"There were a lot of things that went on that didn't fall our way, but that's the way it goes," Torre said.

After Boston's Orlando Cabrera was ruled safe at first base in the ninth, preventing the Yankees from completing a double play, public address announcer Bob Sheppard made his second announcement for fans to maintain order. The umpires talked with Kevin Hallinan, senior vice president of security in the commissioner's office, as Yankees reliever Tanyon Sturtze warmed up.

Helmeted police then came on the field and kneeled in foul territory along the stands on both the left- and right-field sides in the top of the ninth.

With blood seeping through his sock, Schilling, who accepted a trade to the Red Sox last fall for the express purpose of beating the Yankees, took a three-hit shutout into the seventh before allowing Bernie Williams' solo homer on the 91st of his 99 pitches.

Keith Foulke, who threw 72 pitches during the previous two games, relieved to start the ninth. He walked Hideki Matsui leading off and Ruben Sierra with two outs before striking out Tony Clark on a 3-2 pitch to end it, sending the Red Sox running out of the dugout for their third straight night of celebration.

"We just did something that has never been done yet," Schilling said. "It ain't over yet. It ain't over by any stretch against this team and this organization."

The Cardinals, meanwhile, aren't looking forward to a possible Game 7, not yet. After leading the majors with 105 victories, the NL Central champions will go a day at a time against the wild-card Astros.

Coming off one of the best and most unlikely pitching duels in playoff history, it was hard to know what to expect. The teams totaled just four hits — a postseason record — on Monday night, with Brandon Backe and the Astros beating Woody Williams and the Cardinals 3-0.

Jeff Kent's three-run homer off Jason Isringhausen in the ninth inning won that matchup at Minute Maid Park. The clubs have combined for 20 home runs so far, three off the NLCS record set last year by Florida and the Cubs.

"We're as likely to have a 10-8 game as a 2-1 game," Garner said.

It was right in the middle — 6-4, St. Louis — when Morris and Munro matched up in Game 2. Each gave up three runs and six hits, with Munro lasting 4 2/3 innings and Morris going five.