Paint the Town Red - Red Sox Vs. Redbirds

Friday, October 22nd 2004, 6:29 am
By: News On 6

One nemesis down, one to go for the Boston Red Sox. Paint the World Series red _ Red Sox and Redbirds, a classic matchup starting Saturday night at Fenway Park.

After finishing off the New York Yankees, the Red Sox face their biggest National League nemesis, the St. Louis Cardinals in an effort to reverse The Curse and win the World Series for the first time since 1918.

St. Louis is expecting a tough series.

``They showed what they can do, coming back from 3-0,'' NLCS MVP Albert Pujols said. ``They never give up. They knew it wasn't over until they lose that fourth game.''

When Ted Williams led the Red Sox to the 1946 World Series following Boston's first AL pennant since 1918, the Cardinals beat them in Game 7. And when Carl Yastrzemski's Red Sox made it back in 1967, the Cardinals defeated them again in seven games.

Boston, which lost Game 7s to the Cincinnati Reds in 1975 and the New York Mets in 1986, wasn't focused on its Series opponent after winning 10-3 at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night to become the first major league team to overcome a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven series.

Earlier Thursday, Boston manager Terry Francona said he had not had time to focus on the NL teams.

``I hope they play 30 innings tonight. I hope they beat the heck out of each other,'' he said.

St. Louis, which beat Houston 5-2 in Game 7 of the NL championship series Thursday night, was a major league-best 105-57 during the regular season. Boston's 98-64 mark was second in the AL, three games behind the Yankees.

``It's going to be a challenge,'' Cardinals outfielder Larry Walker said. ``Obviously, they're riding a high, too.''

Boston, which won its 11th pennant, starts knuckleballer Tim Wakefield in the opener, most likely against Woody Williams, followed by Curt Schilling for the Red Sox in Game 2. Boston's Pedro Martinez is slated for Game 3 at Busch Stadium on Tuesday, with Derek Lowe starting the following night.

``I see the Red Sox as a very deserving, very competitive ballclub,'' St. Louis third baseman Scott Rolen said. ``It should be a nice challenge and a great contest.''

In 1946, the Red Sox lost the first two games in St. Louis, won three straight at home, then dropped Game 6 on the road.

The Cardinals tied Game 7 at 3-all in the eighth inning on Dom DiMaggio's two-run double off Harry Brecheen. But Enos Slaughter scored from first on Harry Walker's double in the bottom half as shortstop Johnny Pesky hesitated with his relay, according to lore, after receiving the throw from outfielder Leon Culberson.

``The '48, '49, '50, '51 teams should have won pennants,'' said Pesky, who maintains he didn't hesitate with the throw. ``It was heartbreaking and I still think about that. And when people say, `Well, the same old Red Sox,' it disturbs me.''

In 1967, the Red Sox fell behind 3-1 in the Series before forcing a Game 7 at Fenway Park.

Jim Lonborg pitched on two days' rest against Bob Gibson, who had three days' rest. Gibson pitched a three-hitter, while Lonborg allowed seven runs and 10 hits in six innings.

The teams have met in games that count in only one year since then, with St. Louis winning two of three at Fenway Park last year in interleague play.

St. Louis, which captured its NL-high 16th pennant, last won the Series in 1982, beating the Milwaukee Brewers in seven games. The Cardinals lost Game 7s to the Kansas City Royals in 1985 and the Minnesota Twins two years later.