BOSTON -- Contrary to popular belief, the Boston Red Sox don't have to bludgeon an opponent to win in October.
With clutch pitching from veteran Curt Schilling and relievers Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon, and just enough offense to get the job done, the Red Sox squeezed out a 2-1 victory over Colorado in Game 2 of the World Series on Thursday night at Fenway Park.
By winning their sixth consecutive World Series game, dating to their 2004 sweep of St. Louis, the Red Sox took a 2-0 lead with play shifting to Coors Field in Denver on Saturday night.
After Red Sox Nation waited 86 years to claim the big trophy in '04, the next one might come a mere three years later. The last six teams and 12 of the last 13 to go up two games to none went on to claim the World Series title.
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In taking the last three games of the ALCS against Cleveland and Game 1 here against the Rockies, the Red Sox steam-rolled their opposition by the combined score of 43-6. But they have the pitching to prevail as well, as evidenced by the 11 hits and two runs scored by Colorado in this World Series.
"We scored two runs in 18 innings in this ballpark. That makes it tough to win," Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said. "We need to have more quality at-bats.
"I anticipate us playing better baseball at home. We need to get our offense kick-started and just win a ball game. Game 3 is what this is all about right now."
The Rockies appeared primed for a better showing when aggressive base-running and a couple of breaks led to a run against Schilling in the first inning. Schilling started it by nicking leadoff hitter Willy Taveras on the left hand with a pitch.
With one down, Matt Holliday hit a sharp single off the glove of third baseman Mike Lowell, with the ball trickling into shallow left field. Seeing third base unoccupied, Taveras alertly rounded second and headed for third, and when Lowell flipped the ball wildly past shortstop Julio Lugo for an error, Colorado had two runners in scoring position.
Todd Helton followed with a grounder to first, scoring Taveras for a 1-0 lead. But that was it for the Rockies, who were unable to come up with a big hit (0 for 6 with runners in scoring position) against Schilling, Okajima and Papelbon the rest of the evening.
Schilling went 5ª innings, allowing four hits and two walks. But the key performance might have come from Okajima, who pitched 2ª innings of hitless ball to prevent the Rockies from doing anything late.
"That was a phenomenal effort," Boston manager Terry Francona said. "He was so good. His command was spectacular."
Colorado starter Ubaldo Jimenez's command was anything but spectacular, but he was effectively wild until the fourth inning, when Boston broke through to tie the score. After Lowell walked with one out, J.D. Drew lined a single to right for Boston's first hit. Lowell barely beat Brad Hawpe's throw to third, with Drew advancing to second.
Jason Varitek followed with a sacrifice fly to deep center, scoring Lowell and sending Drew to third. Jacoby Ellsbury then walked and swiped second before Jimenez retired Julio Lugo on a grounder to first.
Yet another walk by former Modesto Nut Jimenez led to the decisive run in the fifth.
David Ortiz drew the pass with two down and Manny Ramirez singled through the left side, setting up a go-ahead double by Lowell into the left-field corner.
Colorado's pitchers issued 15 walks in the first two games to Boston's ever-patient lineup, a trend that Hurdle said had to change.
"It puts you in positions you don't want to get into," Hurdle said. "We've got to find a way to correct it. We haven't helped ourselves when we've been able to."
Papelbon took over for Okajima with two down in the eighth and allowed a single by Holliday, but promptly atoned by picking him off at first. He then pitched a perfect ninth, making Hawpe his second strikeout victim to end the game.
"That was the 'Papa-jima' show tonight," said Schilling, referring to the Okajima-Papelbon combination that locked down the one-run victory.
"That was something to watch. Okajima was perfect, every single pitch. And 'Pap's' stuff is better now than it's been all year. That was the story tonight. We had to have it and they both answered the bell."