ST. LOUIS — His gameplan for Game 5 of the World Series went just how Adam Wainwright wanted it to, he said — until the bottom of the Boston Red Sox batting order bit him and the St. Louis Cardinals lost control in the seventh inning.
Boston's rally, keyed by David Ross pulling a Wainwright curve into the left-field corner for a tiebreaking two-run double, was the difference in a 3-1 victory that put the Red Sox on the verge of their third championship since 2004.
Wainwright improved on his performance from Game 1 — which he called a disaster — but he needed to be closer to perfect with Jon Lester throwing so well for Boston. Wainwright allowed 10 hits, including two to that David Ortiz character. Ortiz is batting an unlikely .733 (11 for 15), and has gotten on base 14 times in 19 plate appearances in the Series. Ortiz's laser of a double in the first inning brought home Boston's first run.
The one time Wainwright got Ortiz out, he hit a line drive to center in the sixth that broke a streak of getting on base for nine straight plate appearances.
In a Series and postseason dominated by pitching, it's tough to envision anybody else doing better against Ortiz. But there is the option of putting up four fingers and walking him. Nope. Not Waino's way.
"I don’t like walking anybody," Wainwright said. "I mean, you’ve got a guy on second already, it’s the first inning. Made a good pitch on him — he’s just out-of-his-mind hot right now. As hot as he is, in my mind, I can get anybody out. And I still believe that. Last night, we pitched around him and the guy behind him (Jonny Gomes) burned us.
"That was my call before the game: I said, ‘I’m not going to pitch around Ortiz today. I’m going to get him out.’ He hit a good pitch. Made a good swing."
Wainwright lamented walking Stephen Drew — the only free pass of the game for either side — which came before Ross' key at-bat. Wainwright said he thought he had Ross set up well for a strikeout.
"The pitch was supposed to be more away than it was," Wainwright said. "The first game, he hit a very good curveball. That down-and-in curveball is a pitch I’ve thrown all year. After you’ve thrown some hard stuff, you get ‘em to look for a hard fastball in. Then you throw a bounce curveball inside that looks like a heater out of the hand. They can’t hit it. But he did."
Those few mistakes, or whatever you call them, were enough to doom the Cardinals, who continued to hit weakly in the playoffs.
"Waino battled and pitched good — we just couldn’t score any runs for him," said leadoff man Matt Carpenter, who went 0 for 4.
Though the winner of Game 5 is frequently the team that comes away with the Commissioner's Trophy, a Cardinals comeback wouldn't be unprecedented. That's what Wainwright plans to focus on — rather than looking back at what could have been.
"I don’t live my life with regret and looking back and looking back and all that stuff," Wainwright said. "I know I could have made some pitches there to get our team out of trouble. But we’re not out of it. If this were Game 7 … then it would be a lot harder to take.
"This’ll be legendary if we go into Boston and win two games."
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