Cardinals 7, Red Sox 1
Morris improved to 7-0 with his first complete game of the season and contributed a squeeze bunt to help St. Louis beat Boston 7-1 Monday night in the teams’ first meeting since last fall, when the Red Sox swept the Cardinals for their first World Series championship since 1918.
“We wanted this one bad,” Morris said. “It’s just another game but it was a little more meaningful with all the media around and the attention. So, it was fun today.”
The largest crowd in eight seasons, a sellout of 50,270, watched the Cardinals win for the 16th time in their last 18 interleague games dating to 2003. Edgar Renteria got a generally warm reception, a mixture of early boos drowned out by cheers, in each of his at-bats in his first visit to St. Louis since signing as a free-agent with the Red Sox.
Renteria, who played for the Cardinals for six seasons, was 0-for-3 with two double-play balls and a foul-out. He also misplayed Morris’ grounder for an error in the eighth, prompting jeers of “Edgar! Edgar!” from the fans.
“You wait to beat the Boston Red Sox with Edgar having a tough day you’re not going to beat them too much,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. “I thought the first at-bat when our fans gave him a standing ovation, that really is what his six years here was all about.”
Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek had three passed balls, only two short of his season total from last year, while futilely trying to corral Wakefield’s knuckleball. Varitek, who entered the game with one passed ball this year, drove in the Red Sox’s lone run with a second-inning single.
“I think Wake’s ball was moving all over the place,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “I think his ball was moving, which was good for us, but whoever is back there is going to have a tough time.”
Pitching with a sore shoulder, Morris lasted just 4 1-3 innings in Game 2 of the World Series and gave up four runs. Following offseason arthroscopic surgery, he’s off to the best start of his career. He allowed one run on four hits in the 17th complete game of his career.
Morris struck out one and walked one while raising his career interleague record to 11-5.
His squeeze bunt capped a three-run second against Wakefield, who lasted just 3 2-3 innings in Game 1 of the World Series. Morris’ bunt came after consecutive run-scoring singles by Abraham Nunez and Molina and gave the Cardinals a 3-1 lead.
St. Louis never had a lead in the World Series.
“Believe me, that occurred to me,” La Russa said.
Morris benefited from a handful of outstanding plays. First baseman Albert Pujols caught Renteria’s foul pop after the ball glanced off Cardinals vice president Dan Farrell in the first row next to the Cardinals’ dugout to end the third. Second baseman Mark Grudzielanek fielded Jay Payton’s grounder up the middle and made a strong throw to get him by a half-step in the fifth.
“I just closed my eyes, and stuck my glove out,” Pujols said.
Molina added a run-scoring groundout in the fourth and Eckstein’s RBI with two outs in the sixth made it 5-1 and chased Wakefield, who has lost five straight starts while surrendering 26 earned runs in 28 1-3 innings.
Eckstein added a two-run triple off John Halama in the eighth.
It’s Wakefield’s worst slump since a seven-game skid from Sept. 18, 1995 to April 20, 1996.
“I felt like I pitched OK until that last inning and gave up a pretty cheap run,” Wakefield said. “I think my last time out I didn’t have good stuff, but the other starts I just couldn’t catch a break.”
This is the fourth time since interleague play began in 1997 that the World Series teams met in the next regular season. In two of the three previous instances, both involving the New York Yankees, the World Series winner also won the regular-season series.
This is the Red Sox’s third straight series against a division leader. Previously, they took two of three from the Angels and split a four-game series with the Orioles.
The Cardinals have seven of the first 80 picks in the baseball draft, which begins Tuesday. … There were 7,999 no-shows for the game, which had the largest paid attendance at Busch Stadium since a manual scoreboard was added in center field in 1997. … Cardinals starters have 33 victories, by far the most in the NL. … The Red Sox are 17-18 against teams with winning records. … Eckstein had three hits and is 15-for-38 (.395) during a nine-game hitting streak.