ST. LOUIS -- Jon Lester dominated the St. Louis Cardinals for the second time in five days and put the Boston Red Sox within a win of their third World Series title in 10 years.
Lester allowed just four hits and a run over 7 2/3 innings in Game 5 on Monday night, outdueling Adam Wainwright for a 3-1 win at Busch Stadium that gave Boston a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Lester, who walked none and struck out seven Monday, pitched 7 2/3 shutout innings during Boston's 8-1 win in Game 1.
The Red Sox can clinch Wednesday night in Fenway Park, where John Lackey will pitch against Michael Wacha, who has four wins in as many postseason starts for the Cardinals. Game 7, if necessary, would be Thursday in Boston.
Koji Uehara picked up the final four outs for his second save in as many nights, fanning Matt Adams to end the eighth with David Freese at second and then working a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
For the second consecutive game, an unheralded role player delivered the key hit for Boston. Catcher David Ross, who had just one RBI in the postseason, snapped a 1-1 tie in the seventh with a ground-rule double down the left field line that scored Xander Bogaerts.
Jacoby Ellsbury added an RBI single two batters later off Wainwright, who lost for the second time in the World Series. Wainwright gave up eight hits and three runs over seven innings. He walked one and fanned 10.
For just the second time in the World Series, Boston struck first. Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz stroked back-to-back, one-out doubles in the top of the first inning, with Ortiz's hit plating Pedroia for a quick 1-0 lead.
It was the only time the Red Sox made contact with Wainwright until the third. Wainwright struck out the side in the first two innings and had eight whiffs through five innings.
St. Louis put Allen Craig, who hadn't played in the field since Sept. 4 because of a foot sprain, at first base to provide an extra right-handed bat against Lester. However, Craig limped into a 6-4-3 double play to end the second inning and rolled out to second to start the fifth.
The Cardinals found some offense in the fourth when Matt Holliday lined his and the team's second homer of the Series over the center field wall to tie the score at 1.
NOTES: Boston's first strikeout Monday night was its 143rd of the postseason, setting an all-time major league postseason mark. The 2010 San Francisco Giants, who beat the Texas Rangers in five games to win the World Series, whiffed 142 times. ... St. Louis' 4-2 loss in Game 4 represented its first defeat in nine games this postseason when scoring first. ... Cardinals C Yadier Molina played his 20th career World Series game Monday night, second only to New York Yankees SS Derek Jeter (38) among active players.