BOSTON (AP) -- Given a bit of help by the umpires and a lot more by the Cardinals, the Boston Red Sox turned this World Series opener into a laugher.
Mike Napoli hit a three-run double right after the umps reversed a blown call, Jon Lester made an early lead stand up and the Red Sox romped past sloppy St. Louis 8-1 Wednesday night for their ninth straight Series win.
David Ortiz was robbed of a grand slam by Carlos Beltran - a catch that sent the star right fielder to a hospital with bruised ribs - but Big Papi later hit a two-run homer following third baseman David Freese's bad throw.
The Red Sox also capitalized on two errors by shortstop Pete Kozma to extend a Series winning streak that began when they swept St. Louis in 2004. Boston never trailed at any point in those four games and, thanks to this embarrassing display by the Cardinals, coasted on a rollicking night at Fenway Park.
It got so bad for St. Louis that the sellout crowd literally laughed when pitcher Adam Wainwright and catcher Yadier Molina, who've combined to win six Gold Gloves, let an easy popup drop untouched between them.
Serious-minded St. Louis manager Mike Matheny didn't find anything funny, especially when the umpires huddled in the first inning and flipped a call by Dana DeMuth at second base.
The six-man crew correctly ruled that Kozma had not caught a soft toss from second baseman Matt Carpenter on a slow grounder by Ortiz. A season before Major League Baseball employs full replay, fans got to see a wrong get righted.
"There's five of us out here, OK? And all five of us agreed 100 percent that it wasn't a catch. Our job is to get it right," crew chief John Hirschbeck told Matheny on audio played on the Fox telecast.
The normally slick-fielding Cardinals looked sloppy at every turn. Wainwright bounced a pickoff throw, Molina let a pitch skitter off his mitt, center fielder Shane Robinson bobbled the carom on Napoli's double and there was a wild pitch.
The Cardinal Way? More like no way.
Game 2 is Thursday night, with 22-year-old rookie sensation Michael Wacha starting for St. Louis against John Lackey. Wacha is 3-0 with an 0.43 ERA this postseason.
Lester blanked the Cardinals on five hits over 7 2-3 innings for his third win this postseason.
"He was locating both sides of the plate. His cutter is so tough on righties. He was pretty impressive tonight," Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia said.
Ryan Dempster gave up Matt Holliday's leadoff home run in the ninth.
Boston brought the beards and made it a most hairy night for St. Louis. The Cardinals wrecked themselves with just their second three-error game of the season.
The umpires made a mistake, too, but at least they got to fix it in a hurry.
After the control-conscious Wainwright walked leadoff man Jacoby Ellsbury, Pedroia singled him to second with one out.
Ortiz then hit a slow grounder to Carpenter, and it didn't appear the Cardinals could turn a double play. Hurrying, Kozma let the backhanded flip glance off his glove.
DeMuth instantly called Pedroia out, indicating that Kozma dropped the ball while trying to transfer it to his throwing hand. Boston manager John Farrell quickly popped out of the dugout to argue while Pedroia went to the bench.
"I was just trying to slide in there to break up two. I saw it wasn't on the transfer," Pedroia said. "They call you out, you have to run off. There's a lot of great umpires out there. They put their heads together and got it right and that's the most important thing."
Farrell argued with every umpire he could and must've made a persuasive case. As the fans hollered louder and louder as they studied TV replays, all the umpires gathered on the dirt near shortstop and conferred and decided there was no catch at all.
"It was pretty obvious it wasn't on the transfer. The umpires got the right call and we got some momentum," Ortiz said.
Pedroia came bounding from the dugout and suddenly, the bases were loaded in the first. Napoli unloaded them with a double that rolled to the Green Monster in left-center.
Napoli, with maybe the bushiest beard of all, certainly picked up where he left off the last time he saw the Cardinals in October. In the 2011 Series, he hit .350 with two home runs and 10 RBIs as Texas lost in seven games to St. Louis.
The Red Sox added to their 3-0 lead with two more runs in the second. A fielding error by Kozma set up Pedroia's RBI single.
Ortiz, who hit a tying grand slam at Fenway in the AL championship series win over Detroit, sent a long drive to right-center. Beltran, playing in his first World Series, braced himself with one hand on the low wall in front of the bullpen and reached over with his glove to make the catch.
"At least I got an RBI and we were up four and got the momentum," Ortiz said.
Beltran hurt himself on the play, however, and left in the third inning. There was no report on his condition.
The Red Sox got another run in the eighth on a sacrifice fly by 21-year-old rookie Xander Bogaerts.
While St. Louis stumbled, Boston made the key plays.
When the Cardinals tried to rally in the fourth and loaded the bases, Lester neatly started a home-to-first double play on Freese's comebacker to end the inning.
Left fielder Jonny Gomes lumbered for a diving catch to start the fifth. Shortstop Stephen Drew finished off that inning, deftly handling a bouncer up the middle to strand runners at second and third.
Boston almost made a terrific play to finish the game. With two outs in the ninth, Freese hit a sharp single and right fielder Shane Victorino nearly threw him out at first base.
NOTES: The Red Sox won their fifth straight World Series opener since losing Game 1 to St. Louis in 1967. ... Boston and St. Louis both went 97-65, marking the third time Series opponents had the same regular-season record (Brooklyn and the New York Yankees in 1949, Braves and Yankees in `58). ... Red Sox Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski threw out the first ball. ... The team that won the Series opener has taken the title in 14 of the past 16 years.
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The lessons begin in rookie ball.
Every team emphasizes fundamentals and preparedness, both physical and mental, in the hope it all becomes second nature as players climb through the farm system.
One organization's philosophy always seems to stick out. Everyone knows about The Cardinal Way.
Even before opening day this year, St. Louis was hit hard by season-ending injuries to longtime ace Chris Carpenter, closer Jason Motte and shortstop Rafael Furcal. As the summer wore on, the setbacks kept coming.
But the Cardinals kept dipping into the minors for replacements who did more than their share for a team that's back in the World Series for the fourth time in 10 years.
The kids they plugged in, most by necessity, weren't wide-eyed at all. They remembered the teaching and just let their ability flow.
"There's definitely nerves that are going on," 22-year-old pitcher Michael Wacha said after beating Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw twice in the NL championship series. "You've just got to be able to control them and try to use them to your advantage out there.
"Just not let the moment get too big, just take deep breaths."
The Cardinals are in the postseason for the 10th time in 14 years. Fresh off their 19th pennant, they'll go for their second championship in three years when they open the World Series against the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday night at Fenway Park.
Since new ownership took over from Anheuser-Busch in 1996, only the Yankees have more playoff victories than St. Louis.
The pitching staff is deep, thanks to the farm system.
Shelby Miller had a 3.06 ERA this season and led major league rookies with 15 wins. Yet when the playoffs rolled around, there was no room for him in the rotation.
Wacha is 3-0 with a 0.43 postseason ERA, and fellow rookie Trevor Rosenthal seized the closer's job in September when Edward Mujica faltered. Carlos Martinez stepped into the setup role, Seth Maness induced 16 double-play balls to lead NL relievers, and left-hander Kevin Siegrist posted a 0.45 ERA.
None of them shake off catcher Yadier Molina, himself a product of The Cardinal Way.
"The minor leagues, they're doing a good job teaching them how to pitch, teaching them how to control the emotions," Molina said. "Whenever they move up here, they're ready. Mentally, they're ready from the get-go."
No doubt, they've gotten a little lucky, too.
General manager John Mozeliak appreciates the organization-wide recognition, but couldn't have predicted most of the prospects would come through this quickly. Wacha's sudden dominance is a pleasant surprise, and the same goes for Rosenthal and fill-in first baseman Matt Adams.
John Gast arrived with zero expectations and won his first two career starts. Tyler Lyons, hardly a name on the tip of any fan's tongue, won his first two starts as well.
"None of that would have seemed right. Right?" Mozeliak said. "Our expectations were not for them to have so many fingerprints on this club.
"It's a great commentary on the organization."
Most of the World Series roster is homegrown, a strategy emphasizing scouting expertise and consistency in instruction that allows the Cardinals to keep running with the big spenders.
When longtime slugger and franchise icon Albert Pujols left following the 2011 title for a $240 million contract with the Angels, Allen Craig stepped in at first base and blossomed into a big RBI guy at a fraction of the price.
When Craig went down with a sprained foot in early September, Adams supplied power during the stretch drive.
Sure, the Cardinals aren't the only team surrounding a highly paid nucleus with products from the farm system. They're just one of the best at it.
"Even in lean years, these guys find a way to be there," Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington said this summer. "It doesn't matter the personnel, this is what's expected, and they find a way to get it done."
During his 16 seasons in St. Louis, manager Tony La Russa regularly paid homage to those who laid the foundation. There's a plaque honoring the late George Kissell, a minor league instructor who schooled Joe Torre in the 1970s on a position move from catcher to third base, and duplicated that with Todd Zeile in the mid-90s.
Second-year manager Mike Matheny came up through the Milwaukee system. He blossomed into a four-time Gold Glove catcher with the Cardinals, and that helped land him the job as La Russa's successor without managing a game in the minors.
Matheny said he's just part of the package.
"We're very, very proud of what our development system, our scouts have done to choose the right kind of guys that can handle coming up here at a young age without a lot of experience," Matheny said. "Our coaches and roving staff prepares these guys to come up and not be overwhelmed, but be ready."
Leadoff man Matt Carpenter led the majors in hits, runs and doubles this season. He also was a quick study defensively in transitioning to an opening at second base.
Slick-fielding shortstop Pete Kozma hasn't let offensive woes bother him on defense, where he's shined all season. Shane Robinson came off the bench to add a spark in the NLCS.
Wacha sped through the same system, making it to the majors less than a year after getting drafted in the first round out of Texas A&M. Just like the rest of them, he showed up playoff-ready.
"Without those guys, we wouldn't be where we are," chairman Bill DeWitt Jr said. "We wouldn't have won 97 games, we wouldn't have beaten Pittsburgh, we wouldn't have beaten Los Angeles. It's a great feeling."
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Sam Bradford is done for the season, and the chances on this being the year the St. Louis Rams post their first winning season in a decade changed dramatically.
They insist the season is far from over.
Coach Jeff Fisher told players to keep their chins up on Monday, referencing a book by an inspirational speaker as a rallying point for the final nine games.
"We're going to see a lot of people step up," defensive end Chris Long said. "And we're going to see a lot of people step up that you might not expect."
One of them needs to be Kellen Clemens, who'll be making his 13th career start in eight seasons next Monday night against the Seahawks.
Clemens has been the backup the past two years and was with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer with the Jets, too, so he knows the scheme.
Plus, he's the only other quarterback on the roster.
"Somebody's got to play," Clemens said. "So I'll go out there and do the best job I can and try to help this team win some games," Clemens said.
Bradford will have season-ending surgery for a torn ligament in his left knee after getting hurt in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 30-15 loss at Carolina that dropped the Rams to 3-4.
The Rams feared the worst on the return flight and on Monday announced results of an MRI.
Surgery will be done in the next 2-3 weeks once the swelling goes down and Fisher was confident Bradford would make a complete recovery in time for next season.
"Very disappointing," middle linebacker James Laurinaitis said. "I thought he was putting up a strong season. It's a long grind now for him."
The Rams will be auditioning quarterbacks this week but Fisher said they won't make a trade, which means Clemens is likely set for his first extended opportunity since he made eight starts in 2007 for the Jets.
At his regular day-after news conference, Fisher did his best to dismiss all rumors and said he wasn't "at liberty" to discuss any names. One potential name is Austin Davis, released at the end of training camp.
"There's a lot of speculation out there, everybody's talking and everybody knows more than we do right now OK?" Fisher said. "Trust me, we have a process in place and we're going through that process."
Clemens pointed out the coincidence that his first game with the Rams was a Monday night loss at Seattle in December 2011, days after signing a free agent deal. He did not play against the Seahawks but then started the final three games of a 2-14 season, all losses.
"It's a different team, it's a different set of opponents, different everything," Clemens said. "I am excited for the opportunity."
Bradford tore his anterior cruciate ligament when he landed on his knee after being shoved out of bounds by safety Mike Mitchell. Teammates feared the worst once they saw him carted off the field and on crutches in the locker room.
Bradford has 14 touchdown passes and just four interceptions this season. Still, he has his detractors, critics who insist he has not measured up to the billing of a No. 1 overall pick.
"He was playing very, very well, not only yesterday but was just improving weekly," Fisher said. "The challenge is obvious in this world when you have an impact player go down.
"He was off to a great start, so it's unfortunate but he'll be back. He's our quarterback."
In his fourth season out of Oklahoma, Bradford has been nudging his way up the ladder, among the top half of the league's best quarterbacks. He's been taking charge and minimizing mistakes - exactly what the youngest team in the NFL needed.
Bradford threw for 255 yards and a score Sunday, with one interception and two sacks. He has thrown a touchdown pass in 11 consecutive games. St. Louis had won its previous two games, with Bradford throwing three TD passes in each.
Bradford is no stranger to injuries. He missed six games with a high left ankle sprain in 2011. He had season-ending shoulder surgery in 2009 when he was at Oklahoma.
A couple of Missouri Tigers are collecting awards after an impressive win.
Quarterback Maty Mauk was named the SEC Freshman Player of the Week and Michael Sam won Defensive Player of the Week, after the Tigers beat the Florida Gators 36-17. Mauk filled in for the injured James Franklin and threw for 295 and a score. Michael Sam recorded three sacks against the Gators, bring his season total to 9--the second most in the nation.
The undefeated #5 Mizzou Tigers face SEC rival South Carolina on Saturday.
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Rosters turn over so quickly these days, the St. Louis Cardinals used only seven players from their 2011 World Series roster in this year's NL championship series.
The NL champions got contributions from 20 rookies this season, many in starring roles on a team that led the NL with 97 wins and then reached the World Series for the second time in three years.
General manager John Mozeliak sees little commonalities, pointing out the '11 team sneaked into the postseason as the second wild card and this year's team that until now has had the home-field advantage.
"The good story line is you've got two teams that have the best records in the game matching up in the World Series," Mozeliak said. "And I think that's nice. A lot of times, that doesn't work out."
Lance Lynn is the only pitcher left from two years ago, joined against the Dodgers by position players Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter, Daniel Descalso, David Freese, Matt Holliday and Jon Jay. Cleanup man Allen Craig, sidelined by a foot injury since early September, is expected to join them in the Series and would open as the DH.
The first time Craig would have to play first base is Game 3 Friday in St. Louis, and everyone's optimistic especially given those extra rehab days. Craig's .454 average with runners in scoring position led the majors, and aside from the Cardinals' clinching 9-0 rout of the Dodgers in Game 6 of the NLCS, the offense has struggled without him.
"He could be the difference," Molina said. "I'm happy to have him back."
When the Cardinals were swept by Boston in the 2004 Series, Michael Wacha and Trevor Rosenthal were in middle school.
Wacha was a first-round selection in June 2012 - the Cardinals' compensation pick for losing Albert Pujols to the Angels in free agency - scaled the system quickly and has been phenomenal in the postseason at 3-0 with an 0.43 ERA. He's been to Fenway Park once before, as a sophomore at Texas A&M playing for a college all-star team but didn't play.
"It's unbelievable, just the history," Wacha said. "It's Fenway, it's an amazing ballpark and I just really look forward to getting to play there."
St. Louis worked out Sunday after a day off to savor the NL pennant. They leave for Boston on Tuesday, and just a handful have firsthand experience of the ill-fated 105-win team that got swept by the Red Sox.
"That was one of the toughest experiences in my baseball career," said manager Mike Matheny, who shared catching duties with Molina that year. "You don't forget that."
Matheny said the feeling was similar to the nausea he felt as a rookie manager in the 2012 postseason when the Cardinals took a 3-1 NLCS lead over the Giants and then got walloped three straight times, in his words "getting our lunch handed to us."
"It's a lot like what happened last year as we were standing in the rain watching San Francisco celebrate," Matheny said. "Could we have done anything different? I don't know. But it sure left a sharp bite."
Ace Chris Carpenter was sidelined before that postseason with the first occurrence of a nerve injury that knocked him out all of this season. Carpenter still suits up but in a ceremonial role as a de facto bench coach.
Mozeliak was assistant GM under Walt Jocketty in `04 and remembered everything seeming rushed. The Cardinals beat the Astros in the NLCS, took batting practice at Fenway the next afternoon and then took the first of four lumps.
Off the field, manager Tony La Russa took issue with distant lodging and the "bar food" offered when they arrived at the hotel.
Molina was a 21-year-old rookie in 2004. This year, he's in the conversation for MVP.
"Back then I was just a kid trying to learn," Molina said. "I have a lot more experience."
Carpenter is among four players from '11 that are still with the team but won't be on the roster. Shortstop Rafael Furcal (elbow) also has been out the entire season, Jaime Garcia is rehabbing from midseason shoulder surgery and Jake Westbrook was rarely used the final month coming off elbow and back woes.
Putting Craig on the roster could come at the expense of rookie Kolten Wong, one of the team's top prospects and the likely second baseman of the future.
"We don't have that many extra guys around here that we'd be jostling around what our roster's going to look like," Matheny said.
Matheny announced Adam Wainwright, a 19-game winner who was injured in 2011, and Wacha as the starting pitchers for Games 1 and 2, but didn't go further. Joe Kelly and Lynn are likely to go in Games 3 and 4, given Mozeliak anticipates rookie 15-game winner Shelby Miller will stay in the bullpen for emergency long relief duty.
Miller has pitched just one inning in the postseason and threw to Craig on Sunday.
"I think right now where he's at, I think he'll still be probably used as insurance," Mozeliak said.
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Carlos Beltran, Michael Wacha and the St. Louis Cardinals are going to the World Series - not even Clayton Kershaw could stop them this year.
Beltran and the Cardinals stunned the Dodgers' ace with a four-run third inning, Wacha was again magnificent on the mound and St. Louis advanced to its second World Series in three seasons by roughing up the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-0 in Game 6 of the NL championship series Friday night.
Wacha, a rookie, was selected MVP of the series after throwing 13 2-3 scoreless innings and beating Kershaw twice in the NLCS.
Matt Carpenter sparked St. Louis' big third inning with a one-out double on the 11th pitch of his at-bat. Beltran singled him home and the Cardinals quickly removed all the suspense surrounding a team that squandered a 3-1 series lead in the NLCS last fall against San Francisco.
"I'm so happy right now. We did it as a team," Beltran said. "We fought hard, we worked hard all season long and thank god we're here."
Game 1 of the World Series is Wednesday at the winner of the ALCS between the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers. The Cardinals won their 19th NL pennant and will be trying for their third title since 2006, last winning in 2011.
The glamorous Dodgers, with the second-highest payroll in baseball at $220 million, failed to reach the World Series for the first time since winning it all in 1988.
After losing Game 5 in Los Angeles, the Cardinals turned to Wacha once again. The right-hander was even better in outpitching Kershaw for the second time this series.
It was 52 degrees at game time, a 23-degree drop from the Kershaw-Wacha matchup in Game 2 six days earlier, and Kershaw never warmed up.
The top NL CY Young Award candidate was knocked out of a start for the first time this season without finishing the fifth.
Beltran had three hits and drove in two runs while facing Kershaw and made a spectacular catch in right field, helping him advance to the World Series for the first time in his 16-year career.
Perhaps showing the Cardinals weren't stressed by the possibility of a second straight postseason meltdown, Games 1 and 5 starter Joe Kelly had a post-national anthem staredown against Dodgers reserve outfielder Scott Van Slyke that was broken up by a fed-up home plate umpire Greg Gibson after several minutes.
Kelly blinked first, all in good fun but, when it counted, St. Louis wouldn't budge.
The Cardinals jumped on Kershaw in the third, batting around. After Wacha grounded out, Carpenter doubled in a gritty at-bat. Beltran singled him home for the game's first run. With two outs, Yadier Molina added an RBI single, Shane Robinson drove in two runs with a single in his first career postseason start after replacing slumping Jon Jay - and advanced to second base on Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig's first of two errors in the Cardinals' big innings.
The Cuban defector also struck out twice and was booed heartily. Hanley Ramirez, a last-minute addition to the Dodgers' lineup, went 0 for 3 while playing with a broken rib.
Kershaw needed 48 pitches, the most pitches of his career in one inning, in the third. He took exception one pitch in particular, complaining to plate umpire Greg Gibson after Matt Adams' full-count walk loaded the bases.
The Dodgers bench also was vocal after the call on a pitch that may have been an inch or two low of the strike zone.
The Cardinals knocked Kershaw out in a five-run fifth. Adams doubled in a run to chase Kershaw. Wacha drove in one with a fielder's choice grounder and Carpenter had a sacrifice fly
Wacha has a minuscule 0.43 ERA in three postseason starts, one of the gems in Game 4 of the division series to keep the Cardinals alive. In his last regular season start and the NL Central up for grabs, he no-hit the Nationals for 8 2-3 innings.
"There's not anything you can't say about him," Kelly said of Wacha. "He's just going out there and pitching his butt off right now and as you can see he's just a pretty damn good pitcher."
Beltran was the star of the Cardinals' 3-2, 13-inning Game 1 victory, driving in all three runs plus making a throw to keep it tied in extra innings.
Kershaw was charged with seven runs on 10 hits in four-plus innings. The lefty led the majors in ERA the last three years but has lost five straight starts against St. Louis.
None of his starts this year were shorter than five innings and the most runs he allowed was five, on two occasions. The four-run fourth was his worst since July 24, 2012, at St. Louis, when Kershaw yielded eight runs in 5 2-3 innings.
The Dodgers didn't have much of a chance again Wacha.
Carl Crawford led off the game with an infield hit but was erased on Mark Elllis' double-play ball. A.J. Ellis doubled to start the sixth and didn't advance.
NOTES: Cardinals Hall of Fame SS Ozzie Smith threw the first pitch. ... Beltran has a .331 career postseason average.