Manny Ramirez (search) drove in two runs, including a solo homer, and Pedro Martinez set down 14 straight batters as the Boston Red Sox defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 4-1 Tuesday to move within a victory of their first World Series (search) title since 1918.

Coming off 11-9 and 6-2 wins at Fenway Park last weekend, the Red Sox (search) became the first team in World Series history to hold the lead after the first inning in Games 1, 2 and 3. The only other teams to score in the first inning of the first three games were the 1932 Chicago Cubs and the 1997 Cleveland Indians.

Larry Walker hit a one-out, solo homer in the ninth off closer Keith Foulke for the Cardinals only run.

Ramirez's two-out homer off former teammate Jeff Suppan gave Boston a 1-0 lead in the first inning. With his 18th postseason home run, Ramirez tied Mickey Mantle and Reggie Jackson for second place on the career list, four behind Bernie Williams.

Boston made it 2-0 in the fourth inning. Bill Mueller hit a two-out double to left field and came in on Trot Nixon's booming RBI single to right. Suppan then hit Mark Bellhorn with a pitch but struck out Martinez a second time to end the inning.

Martinez, who was lifted for pinch hitter Kevin Millar in the eighth inning, retired 14 straight batters after Edgar Renteria's double in the third. Martinez allowed just three hits, struck out six and walked two in seven innings of work.

The Red Sox added two more runs in the fifth inning. Johnny Damon doubled off Suppan to open the frame. Orlando Cabrera singled to right and Ramirez followed with an RBI single to left to make the score 3-0. David Ortiz flew out to center field for the first out of the inning. Jason Varitek hit a grounder that forced Ramirez at second and moved to Cabrera to third. Mueller bounced a single into right field to give Boston a 4-0 lead and chase Suppan. Al Reyes got Nixon to fly out to left field to end the inning.

The Cardinals threatened in the bottom of the first. With one out, Martinez walked Walker and Albert Pujols followed with a hard shot to Mueller at third base to reach on an infield single. Martinez then walked Scott Rolen to load the bases.

Jim Edmonds lifted a shallow fly to left field and Ramirez threw out Walker at the plate to end the inning.

Suppan put the Red Sox down in order in the second inning.

Martinez did the same in the bottom of the frame. Reggie Sanders opened the Cardinals second with a fly out to shallow left field. Tony Womack grounded out second and Martinez struck out Mike Matheny for his first strikeout of the game.

The Cardinals threatened again in the third but were thwarted by Suppan's running gaffe. The pitcher, who started the regular season 0-for-43 at the plate, opened the inning with an infield single and went to third base on Renteria's double off the right field wall.

Walker grounded out and Suppan was thrown out at third on the play after stopping and trying to return after going halfway home. Pujols grounded out to end the inning.

It rained for most of the day at Busch Stadium, but the showers stopped before game time. Still, many parts of the field were water-logged for the first World Series game in St. Louis since 1987.

The Red Sox have won seven straight postseason games, breaking a team record set in 1915-16. This streak started with the stirring comeback from a 3-0 deficit against the New York Yankees in the AL championship series.

Suppan finished last season with the Red Sox, making their playoff roster for the ALCS but not getting to pitch against the Yankees. This season, he settled in nicely and led the Cardinals' staff with wins.

Among the Red Sox, Ramirez has done the best against Suppan, going 9-for-21 with four home runs, including Tuesday's shot.