BOSTON -- Wasn't this the way it had been playing out all postseason for the Red Sox? Stout starting pitching, this time from John Lackey. Clutch hitting, once again provided by David Ortiz. And as they entered the late innings with a lead -- 2-1 in the seventh, in this case -- the bullpen trio of Craig Breslow, Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara seemed poised to close it out.
Only this time the formula didn't work.
Breslow couldn't hold the lead -- thanks in part to his pitching and in part to his fielding -- and Game 2 of the 2013 World Series slipped away. The Cardinals scored three runs in the seventh and went to a 4-2 victory that tied the series at one game apiece.
Games 3, 4 and 5 will be played in St. Louis on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
"We expected this to be a very competitive series," said manager John Farrell, "and we're not surprising that we're in this position that we are."
He might be a little surprised at how they got there, though.
Staked to the one-run lead by a two-run homer from Ortiz in the sixth inning, Lackey started the seventh by striking out Allen Craig. But when he walked David Freese and allowed a single to right by Jon Jay, Farrell turned to his heretofore airtight bullpen and called on Breslow.
But Breslow, sporting a perfect 0.00 ERA to this point in the postseason, faltered. He allowed a double steal -- with pinch-runner Pete Kozma taking third and Jay taking second -- and then walked No. 9 hitter Daniel Descalso, loading the bases with one out.
Matt Carpenter tied the score with a sacrifice fly to left fielder Jonny Gomes, driving in Kozma from third. But when catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia couldn't hold onto Gomes' throw, Jay, who had held at second, took off for third. Breslow, backing up the play, picked up the ball and airmailed a throw to third, sailing it far over the head of third baseman Xander Bogaerts and into left field. Jay scored, giving the Cardinals a 3-2 lead, and DeScalso raced all the way to third.
"That's the moment, in looking back, I'm sure Craig would like to have that back." said Farrell. "It's uncharacteristic of the way we've protected the baseball this year."
Carlos Beltran then cracked a single to right, driving in Descalso and making the score 4-2.
The meltdown destroyed the electric atmosphere in the park that had erupted when Ortiz put the Sox in front the previous inning. Following Dustin Pedroia's one-out walk, Ortiz deposited a blast into the Monster Seats in left, his second homer of the Series and fifth of the postseason, and gave Boston a 2-1 lead.
The Sox had been held in check over the first five innings by Cardinal rookie Michael Wacha, who'd limited them to two hits and three walks. Their only threat had come in the fourth, when Pedroia led off with a double and Ortiz walked. But Mike Napoli grounded into a rally-killing double play, and Gomes popped out to end the inning.
"That was the pitch of the game," Farrell said of the Wacha changeup to Napoli that induced the double play.
By that time, Wacha had been staked to a 1-0 lead. The Cards broke through against Lackey in the fourth when Matt Holliday led off with a triple to the center-field triangle and came in on a one-out infield grounder by Yadier Molina that he was able to bounce over Lackey's head. Molina was thrown out by Pedroia, but Holliday was able to come home once the ball got past Lackey.
Wacha was taken out at the start of the seventh, but getting the starter out of the game wasn't the advantage it had been in the ALCS against Detroit. The Cards' bullpen -- Carlos Martinez in the seventh and eighth, Trevor Rosenthal in the ninth -- limited the Sox to one hit over the final three innings, and Rosenthal put an emphatic end to things by striking out the side in the ninth.
And as the Cards celebrated their victory, the Fenway Park organist serenaded both teams, and the fans, with "Meet Me in St. Louis."
"This team has responded well to challenges on the road, and at home, and I know we'll be ready to go," said Farrell. "This time of year, our guys embrace every challenge that comes their way and I know they'll be ready on Saturday."