BOSTON -- The feel of a coronation was in the chilly air at Fenway Park long before the game started.
It seemed only a formality for the Boston Red Sox to wrap up the World Series in Game 6 on Wednesday night, particularly after winning Games 4 and 5 against the Cardinals in St. Louis to put themselves in position for their first title-clinching victory at home since 1918.
Sure enough, the Red Sox rode Shane Victorino's three-run double and John Lackey's 6 2/3 effective innings to a 6-1 victory over the Cardinals and their third World Series title in 10 years.
"When the fireworks went off during the trophy presentation, the ballpark was covered in smoke and I stopped to think how thankful I am to be in this position with everything that happened this season," Red Sox manager John Farrell said.
"(General manager) Ben Cherington deserves all the credit in the world for the way he constructed the roster. Most importantly, the players showed the energy every day. They bought into what we were doing and made a total commitment, which was really special."
The Red Sox beat the Cardinals in the race to become the first team in this century to win three titles. Boston also won in 2004 and 2007 after going 86 years since their previous championship.
Boston also completed a worst-to-first story, lifting the championship to the roar of the Fenway faithful just a year after finishing last in the American League East with a 69-93 record.
"There were a lot of embarrassed people in this organization, and they vowed things were going to change," said Farrell, a former Red Sox pitching coach who was acquired last November from the Toronto Blue Jays in a trade. He managed the Blue Jays in 2011 and 2012.
David Ortiz was selected the World Series MVP after going 11-for-16 (.688) with eight walks. He walked four times Wednesday, three times intentionally, giving him a .760 on-base percentage to go with a 1.188 slugging percentage.
"I feel I am one of the forces on this ballclub, and I like to take that challenge personally," Ortiz said. "I wasn't trying to be the guy, but I knew I had to be the guy to keep the line moving. Thank God I was that guy until tonight. The other guys didn't need me to move the line tonight."
Ortiz, the only man to play on all three of the Red Sox's World Series teams in the last decade, said this victory was the sweetest.
"We didn't have as much talent as 2007 and 2004, but we had guys who stayed focused and did the little things, and that was special," Ortiz said. "It's tougher to win with a team like this than the teams we had in '07 and '04."
Victorino drove in four runs after sitting out the previous two games with lower back stiffness. He was dropped to No. 6 in the batting order from No. 2 after going 0-for-10 in the first three games of the series.
His bases-loaded double off rookie sensation Michael Wacha proved to be all the Red Sox and Lackey needed. Lackey allowed only one run as he scattered nine hits while walking one and striking out five.
Victorino also delivered the big blow with a grand slam in the Red Sox's clinching victory in the American League Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers in Game 6 at Fenway.
"He's got a real flair for the dramatic," Farrell said. "Even though his numbers weren't great in the postseason, I think every team we played would tell you they knew he was capable of making a big difference in every game."
Wacha, the breakout star of the postseason, was 4-0 through four starts. He allowed only three runs in 29 2/3 October innings until Victorino matched that run total with one swing. Wacha wound up being tagged for six runs in 3 2/3 innings Wednesday. He gave up five hits and four walks while striking out five.
"You have a more educated team that's faced him before, and you got a kid that's been out there and so impressive to keep doing what he's been doing," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "The game is going to catch up with everybody."
Victorino, Jacoby Ellsbury and Stephen Drew had two hits each for the Red Sox. Drew homered after entering the game 4-for-51 in the postseason.
Matt Carpenter went 3-for-5 with the Cardinals, and Allen Craig added two hits. With St. Louis down 6-0, Carlos Beltran singled home the Cardinals' lone run in the seventh inning.
"I told them to hold their head high," Matheny said of his postgame message to his players. "They have nothing to be ashamed of. We all know that we could come out and played a better game than what we did here."
Koji Uehara pitched a perfect ninth to finish it off for the Red Sox, striking out Carpenter to end the game.
"I always say I work in a museum, but this was the loudest museum I've ever been in," Red Sox left fielder Jonny Gomes said.
Victorino broke a scoreless tie in the third inning in a big way, whacking his three-run double off the Green Monster in left field with two outs off Wacha.
Ellsbury led off with a single and moved to second on Dustin Pedroia's groundout. The Cardinals then intentionally walked Ortiz.
Wacha struck out Mike Napoli but kept the inning alive by hitting Gomes with a pitch. Victorino made the rookie right-hander pay for the mistake.
The Red Sox chased Wacha an inning later when they scored three more runs. Drew, who hit .158 in the series, belted a solo home run to right field, Napoli added an RBI single, and Victorino singled home a run off reliever Lance Lynn.
"This movie was written in spring training," Gomes said. "We knew this was what was going to happen. All you had to do was press play."
NOTES: Victorino batted sixth for the first time all season. He batted seventh twice in the regular season. ... Matheny said his players were no worse for the wear after arriving at their hotel just before midnight Tuesday night. The team's charter flight took off from St. Louis seven hours late because of mechanical problems. ... For trivia buffs, the Game 7 matchup on Thursday night would have been Boston RHP Jake Peavy against St. Louis RHP Joe Kelly.