Clay Buchholz may not be fully healthy, but the way he sees it, no player is by the time the World Series rolls around.
"I've said it a couple of times this year - I don't think anybody, especially at this time of the season, is 100 percent."
Boston manager John Farrell hopes his Game 4 starter can muster a solid performance despite a bum right shoulder Sunday night at Busch Stadium as the Red Sox look to even their series with the St. Louis Cardinals at two games apiece.
There's no question Buchholz is hurting, and he's not denying it, either. After going 12-1 with a 1.74 ERA in 16 regular-season starts, the right-hander has no record with a 5.40 ERA in three postseason outings and hasn't completed six innings in each of the last two.
Farrell, who inserted Buchholz into this spot in the rotation specifically to prevent him from starting more than once during the World Series, still has been impressed with how Buchholz has pitched through the injury.
Both insist the current pain is unrelated to the shoulder strain that kept Buchholz out three months during the regular season.
"We go into (Sunday) thinking that he's going to give us what he's been in the postseason," Farrell said. "That might be a little bit shorter of an outing than maybe we've seen back in April and May, but he's also been very effective."
Buchholz will be pitching on plenty of rest after giving up two runs and striking out four in five innings as Boston clinched the pennant with a 5-2 win over Detroit in Game 6 of the AL championship series Oct. 19. He won each of his three starts while posting a 0.53 ERA pitching on at least six days rest in the regular season.
"Giving the team a chance to win, that's my goal," said Buchholz, who is 6-0 with a 1.76 ERA in eight road starts, including the playoffs. "And to trust your pitches and to throw them to the best of your ability, that's what I've worked up to up to this point, and that's where I'm at."
The Red Sox, though, trail in the series after a bizarre ending to Saturday's Game 3. After Dustin Pedroia's stellar diving play led to Cardinals' catcher Yadier Molina being tagged out a home plate for the second out of the ninth, Jarrod Saltalamacchia attempted to throw out Allen Craig at third base.
Will Middlebrooks dove for the errant throw that bounced down the left-field line, then subsequently tripped Craig, who was trying to sprint home. The umpires called Middlebrooks for obstruction, giving St. Louis a 5-4 victory and the series lead.
It was the first World Series game to end on an error since Game 6 in 1986, when the Red Sox lost to the New York Mets.
"Tough way to have a game end, particularly of this significance," Farrell said. "When Craig trips over him, I guess by the letter of the rule, you could say it's obstruction. Like I said, that's a tough pill to swallow."
Molina went 3 for 4 with an RBI and Matt Holliday had a two-run double in the first and finished with three RBIs for the Cardinals. Daniel Nava drove in two runs for the Red Sox.
''It's part of the game,'' Holliday said. ''The guy was in his way. ... We'll take it.''
St. Louis looks to take a commanding 3-1 series lead with help from Lance Lynn, who will be pitching on 11 days rest.
The right-hander, 2-1 with a 5.40 ERA in two starts and one relief appearance this postseason, last took the mound when he allowed two runs and struck out five in 5 1-3 innings of a 4-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 4 of the NLCS.
"I've been able to do things in between starts, and being ... able to work on things that you need to do to be ready," Lynn said. "The rest, most of the time, just helps."
Lynn will be making his franchise-record 20th postseason appearance, though the 26-year-old is just 1-2 with a 5.82 ERA in four starts. He went 15-10 with a 3.97 ERA in 33 regular-season outings.
"I think he's one of the guys that gets overlooked as we start talking about the youth of the staff," manager Mike Matheny said. "Lance is a guy that won 18 games for us last season and has done well in the postseason, and he does carry himself like a guy that's been around a while. But I believe he's still a young pitcher and still learning, still adapting."
Lynn went 9-3 with a 2.82 ERA at Busch Stadium in the regular season.