BOSTON — One is 22, brimming with vigor and riding a hot streak in the dawn of his career, the other is 36, injected with a painkiller just to make it on the field and refusing to succumb to discomfort during his first and perhaps last chance to earn that elusive ring.
Michael Wacha and Carlos Beltran, both trying to make the most of their first World Series, helped lift the St. Louis Cardinals to a 4-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night that evened the matchup at a game apiece.
“It’s the World Series, big-time game,” Wacha said.
Wacha bested John Lackey in a matchup of present and past rookie sensations, Beltran provided a big hit and this time it was the Red Sox who were tripped up by fielding failures.
“Somebody would have to kill me in order for me to get out of the lineup,” said Beltran, undeterred by bruised ribs that landed him in the hospital a night earlier.
Matt Holliday tripled and scored on Yadier Molina’s fourth-inning grounder, but David Ortiz put Boston ahead 2-1 in the sixth when he pounced on an 85 mph changeup for a two-run homer just over the Green Monster in left field.
That ended Wacha’s scoreless streak at 18 2/3 innings — a rookie record for a single postseason — but it was all he gave up. Selected by St. Louis last year with the first-round draft pick received as compensation when Albert Pujols signed with the Los Angeles Angels, Wacha has been so good lately that a St. Louis restaurant he walked into had named a milkshake after him, the “Wacha Wacha.”
Wacha, the NL Championship Series MVP after beating Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw twice, threw a career-high 114 pitches and allowed two runs, three hits and four walks in six innings with six strikeouts. He improved to 4-0 with a 1.00 ERA in four outings this postseason, matching the amount of regular-season wins he has in his brief career.