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Almost a done deal
Boston is one game from a sweep after blowing it open early and pulling away late.
By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer
Published October 28, 2007
From left, the Rockies' Garrett Atkins, Troy Tulowitzki and Kazuo Matsui wait out a pitching change during Boston's six-run third.
Dustin Pedroia hits a bunt single to put runners on first and second and launch a big third.
DENVER - After going 86 at-times tortuous years without winning one World Series, the Red Sox are one victory from a second championship in four seasons.
The Sox held on through a long, cold Colorado night for a 10-5 victory Saturday and now hold a historically insurmountable advantage, with a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven World Series.
It was the longest nine-inning game in World Series history at 4 hours, 19 minutes, and the temperatures were in the 30s by the end as the Sox took a comfortable early lead, then watched most of it slip uncomfortably away before rallying again late.
But, despite their cautious comments, they are feeling pretty good, with four chances to get the one win they need starting tonight.
"We can't say, 'La-di-da, it's down to one game,'" Sox reliever Mike Timlin said. "We have to go as hard as we can."
Or, in Manny Ramirez's world: "You don't want to eat your cake before your birthday."
The Sox have history on their side. Of the first 22 teams to take 3-0 Series lead, and all have gone on to win, 19 in four-game sweeps, as they did in 2004.
"Okay, so it looks like we're in groundbreaking territory," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "You don't overreact and you don't under-react. You just get ready to play and find a way to win Game 4."
The Sox can relate, having trailed the Yankees 3-0 before their historic comeback in the 2004 ALCS. But manager Terry Francona was exasperated when asked if he had any advice for the Rockies.
"I don't know how to answer that," he said. "I really don't want them to win."
Denver was electric for its first World Series game, the city awash in purple, and the Coors Field crowd of 49,983 at full roar.
The Red Sox jumped out to a 6-0 lead with yet another big-inning outburst and a strong start from Daisuke Matsuzaka, then the Rockies came back, cutting the lead to 6-5 when MVP candidate Matt Holliday hit a huge homer off Hideki Okajima.
"We were hanging on for dear life," Francona said.
But the Sox came back with three runs in the eighth, rookie leadoff man Jacoby Ellsbury logging his third double of the night. It was the 16th time in 13 postseason games the Sox scored at least three in an inning.
After threatening in the first two innings, the Sox broke through in an 11-batter, seven-hit, six-run third, including a pair of doubles by Ellsbury, who teamed with Dustin Pedroia at the top of the lineup for seven hits.
They got one on a David Ortiz double, two on a Mike Lowell single, two more on an unexpected single by Matsuzaka (his first hit in the majors and, according to Hurdle, "a swing of the bat that provided some discomfort for us") and the sixth run on Ellsbury's second double. It was the second time the Sox have batted around in three Series games, and the sixth time in the postseason.
The Rockies began the game continuing their offensive struggles with just one hit through the first four innings.
But they showed some spark in the fifth and staged an actual real-life rally in the sixth, scoring twice to match their totals from the first two games.
But their near-misses were more relevant, pinch-hitter Ryan Spilborghs a few feet shy of what would have been a three-run homer to center, and Jeff Baker's sizzling line drive that was snared at full extension by shortstop Julio Lugo. "Unbelievable play," Pedroia said. "I didn't think he could get to that. It changed the game."
The Rox rallied again in the seventh, Holliday greeting Okajima, the relief star of Game 2, with a 437-foot home run, but that was it and the Sox pulled away.