(BaseballStL) -- After flirting with trouble in the fifth inning, the Cardinals gave it a home in the sixth. Despite their best efforts, the Redbirds could not evict it Sunday night.
After Boston got to Lance Lynn for an equalizing run in the top of five, they came up the following inning a baserunner or two away from knocking the St. Louis starter out.
Despite getting the first two outs, Lynn couldn't close out the sixth. When Dustin Pedroia singled and David Ortiz walked, it was the end of his night.
Seth Maness came in with men on first and second, and got two strikes on Jonny Gomes. The crowd began to roar, and for a moment it felt like Boston would miss another opportunity. Instead, Gomes silenced the crowd with a roped home run into the left field bullpen.
The stillness of 47,000 fans was like a lead blanket as Gomes trotted around the bags.
"[Seth] has been able to come in and get the big out when we needed it, and we wanted to give him a shot," said Mike Matheny after the game. "It just didn't work out tonight."
In a game that saw both clubs coax runners around the basepaths, such an authoritative blow was like a haymaker to the jaw, one that stumbled all of St. Louis.
In the seventh, Shane Robinson steadied the club's feet with a two-out double, bringing Craig Breslow in for the Red Sox. Breslow continued what had been an abysmal World Series performance, giving up an RBI single to Matt Carpenter.
He then walked Carlos Beltran before he was promptly removed from the game. Six out of the seven batters Breslow has faced in the World Series have reached base, and he has surrendered four runs (three earned) while recording only one out.
Despite Breslow's trouble, Matt Holliday would ground out to end the threat, leading Boston manager John Farrell to tap John Lackey to bridge the gap in the eighth inning.
Perhaps in the spirit of adventure, Boston would test Lackey when Xander Bogaerts threw wide to first, allowing Yadier Molina to reach second on the mishap.
Lackey would give Molina third when a pitch got away from him, but the Cardinals could not bring him home.
In the ninth, Allen Craig strode- gingerly- to the plate. The wounded All-Star continued to show no fear of Koji Uehara, blasting a ball into the gap. Were it not for his sore foot, he would have stood on second.
Instead, he held at first and pinch runner Kolten Wong took his spot on the bag with Beltran in the box.
Busch Stadium was a madhouse as the seemingly ageless Beltran gripped the bat. It was a moment that could have cemented the Puerto Rican hero as an October legend.
Instead, the game would end 90 feet away from him.
Uehara, preying on Wong's inexperience, wheeled and threw to Mike Napoli, catching the speedy Hawaiian mid-stride.
"We talked very clearly about a very good pickoff move" said Matheny. "He was reminded once he got on base, and also reminded that run didn't mean much- to be careful, shorten up. He got a little extra, then he slipped and the slip cost him."
Wong dove back to the bag, but it was too late.
“He just fell into a little pattern, going home, going home, and I got a little off," Wong said in the clubhouse, fighting back tears. "Once I went to plant and go back, my back foot just gave out. I ended up going short.”
Napoli's mitt beat the young Cardinal's hand, and in a flash, it was over.
For a moment there was no reaction. As realization set in, hands covered mouths and shoulders sank.
There would be no heroics. There would be no crack of the bat. There would be no victory.
The Cardinal faithful, whose ardency had alternatively soared and plummeted all game long, became listless. 47,000 sulked to the exits, as deflated as a New Year's Eve party balloon in March.
Saturday gave the Cardinals a series lead, a surge of momentum and a belief that they were chosen by fate. Sunday equalized it all.