Red Sox play party crashers in Denver

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DENVER — Jonathan Papelbon walked around Coors Field in a daze on Sunday night, deliriously happy but also admittedly wiped out.

The 26-year-old closer tried to come up with the right words to describe his elation to have been on the mound when the Red Sox made their sweep over the Rockies official, but standing among his champagne-soaked teammates, mobbed by hundreds of cameras, Papelbon looked into the distance, seemingly oblivious to the pandemonium taking place around him.

“I’m totally and absolutely drained,” Papelbon said. “I don’t think I have one more ounce of energy in me.”

Papelbon used his last bits of adrenaline wisely. Faced with protecting a one-run lead and closing out the most important game the Sox have played since this time three years ago, the lights-out closer successfully maintained his composure throughout his perfect ninth frame.

First up was Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba, who grounded out to second. Dustin Pedroia tossed to Kevin Youkilis, as the first baseman appeared to cradle the ball in his glove with a bit of extra deliberation.

Jamey Carroll then sent a laser to left field, causing a sellout crowd at Coors Field to fall silent. The ball traveled quickly, but it fell inches short of clearing the wall. Jacoby Ellsbury caught it at the warning track for out No. 2.

Papelbon then worked Seth Smith to a 2-2 count before the Rockies’ pinch-hitter swung through strike three. As Jason Varitek squeezed the ball, Papelpon threw his cap high in the air and rushed toward his veteran catcher, who leaped into his arms.

Cue the full-squad pile up.

The scene on the field was chaotic, as all World Series clinchers are. Three of the last four Fall Classics have been won on the road, with the lone exception being last year’s Cardinals’ win in St. Louis. Normally, clinching on the road provides a more subdued celebration in the stands, but considering that approximately 7,000 Red Sox fans rushed to the area behind the visitors’ dugout, this celebration had a more jovial feel.

After their clubhouse celebration, slowly, the Boston players filtered back out onto the field. Chants of “Let’s Go Red Sox” resonated from the stands, as did a myriad of other cheers, including “Bob-by Kiel-ty,” referring to the Red Sox bench player, whose solo homer in the eighth inning turned out to be the difference-maker in Boston’s 4-3 win.

A beaming Kielty raised his arms toward the crowd, soaking in a scene that he never could have imagined he’d be a part of back in July, when he was released by Oakland.

“I was down in the cage, swinging a lot,” Kielty said, describing how he got ready for his game-winning home run. “Trying to prepare myself and stay as loose as I can. They told me I may have a shot to hit. I figured, if I’m in a World Series, there’s no way I’m going down not swinging.

“I decided, I’m swinging at the first pitch, no matter where it’s at. I was looking for a fastball and I got a fastball, and I ended up hitting it.”

As Kielty was mobbed by reporters, Mike Lowell emerged onto the field to accept his World Series MVP award. Fans chanted “Re-sign Lowell!” to which Josh Beckett turned to the stands and also yelled back, “Yea! Re-sign Lowell!”

Curt Schilling ran back onto the field to chants of “One more year.” Schilling held his right index finger up to the crowd, seemingly showing the fans that he agreed with their assessment.

Credit Red Sox fans for being astute, as well. Noticing FOX commentator Joe Girardi giving his postgame commentary to the left of the Red Sox’s dugout, the crowd chanted something to the tune of “Yankees stink.” Apparently, they believe he’s the front-runner for the job in New York to replace Joe Torre.

Throughout the hour-long celebration, fans begged Papelbon to “Dance! Dance! Dance!” But their hopes of watching the closer break out into the Riverdance as he did when the Red Sox won the American League pennant were dashed when Papelpon yelled back, “In Boston! In Boston!”

“I’ll be dancing, just not tonight,” Papelbon said. “When I get back to Boston, we’re going to party hard.”

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Schilling, Red Sox take 2-0 Series lead

BOSTON – There’s more than one way to rough up the Rockies. Boston‘s big bats battered them in the World Series opener. Then October ace Curt Schilling and a stingy bullpen shut down Colorado in Game 2. Relying more on guile than pure gas, Schilling pitched Boston to a 2-1 victory Thursday night and a 2-0 lead in the World Series over the suddenly stagnant Rockies.

“I’m actually ecstatic with the way we’re playing,” Boston third baseman Mike Lowell said. “We’re on the verge of winning a World Series.”

Lowell hit a tiebreaking double in the fifth and the Red Sox got 3 2-3 innings of shutout relief from Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon to win their sixth straight Series game, including a sweep of St. Louis in 2004.

That victory ended an 86-year title drought and set off a wild winter of celebrations all over New England. Two more wins this year and the party’s on again.

“This was the Pap-ajima show tonight,” Schilling said. “That was just phenomenal to watch.”

The Series shifts to spacious Coors Field for Game 3 on Saturday night, when $103 million rookie Daisuke Matsuzaka pitches for Boston against Josh Fogg.

“Our hometown crowd is probably looking forward to this as much as anything in a long time,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “We could use the support.”

With no designated hitter allowed, the Red Sox must decide whether to play hobbling slugger David Ortiz at first base or leave his mighty bat on the bench.

If they keep getting this kind of pitching, it might not matter.

“We’re going to make a series out of this,” Rockies rookie Troy Tulowitzki said.

One night after Josh Beckett blazed through the Rockies with 97 mph fastballs in a 13-1 rout, Schilling shut them down with savvy and splitters.

Nearly automatic in October, he improved to 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA in 19 postseason starts and tipped his cap to the pulsing crowd as he walked off the mound — perhaps for the final time in a Red Sox uniform.

His fastball hovering around 87 mph, Schilling held punchless Colorado in check for 5 1-3 innings and became the second 40-year-old starter to win a World Series game. Detroit‘s Kenny Rogers did it last year against the Cardinals.

Coming off eight days of rest, the wide-eyed Rockies looked awfully rusty while getting blitzed in the opener. They hardly resembled the team that had won 10 straight and 21 of 22 to earn the first pennant in its 15-year history.

Colorado came to play in Game 2. But Boston’s pitchers were too much for an offense that really hasn’t hit all month. The Rockies’ incredible charge to the World Series masked this fact: they came into Thursday batting only .235 in the postseason.

“Tonight we played better, we pitched better. We just didn’t get the big hit,” Colorado’s Garrett Atkins said.

Okajima entered with two on in the sixth and Boston leading 2-1. He retired Atkins on a grounder and struck out Brad Hawpe to squash the threat.

There was more to come. The rookie left-hander from Japan fanned three straight before he was pulled for Papelbon with two outs in the eighth.

“His command was spectacular, and that set up the whole game,” Boston manager Terry Francona said of Okajima.

Matt Holliday spun Papelbon off his feet with a shot up the middle for his fourth hit. But the closer got even when he left the NLCS MVP sprawled in the dirt at first base with his first career pickoff.

“They gave me the (sign) from the dugout,” Papelbon said. “I kind of just held the ball for a second, got relaxed and did a nice easy pick over there. I don’t know if he was going or what.”

Papelbon finished up in the ninth, securing Schilling’s third win in four starts this postseason and his second save. He and Okajima have combined for 17 1-3 scoreless innings in October.

“It has to change for us. We have to hit better,” Atkins said. “Holliday had a good night, but that was about it.”

With two outs in the fifth, Ortiz walked and Manny Ramirez singled before Lowell pulled a 2-1 pitch from losing pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez down the left-field line for a 2-1 Red Sox lead.

Boston loaded the bases, but Matt Herges retired Jason Varitek on an easy fly ball to end the inning.

The Red Sox won their previous four games by a combined score of 43-6 and became the first team in postseason history to put up double-digit run totals in three straight.

But with a bright autumn moon hanging high behind the right-field grandstand, Jimenez seemed to have the Red Sox spooked early on.

A hesitation in his windup, cap tilted slightly to the side, the 23-year-old rookie held Boston hitless for three innings with an array of 96 mph fastballs and sharp sliders. He stayed poised, too, calmly taking time to gather himself behind the mound as Boston’s big boppers stepped in.

Jimenez walked two in the third and Ortiz took a shot at Pesky’s Pole, barely missing a three-run homer on a drive that curled just foul. Tied up on a tough slider, Ortiz later fanned for the third out.

But the patient Red Sox started to wear down Jimenez, laying off balls and driving his pitch count up. Soon, they broke through.

Lowell walked with one out in the fourth and J.D. Drew singled to right for Boston’s first hit. Lowell aggressively turned for third and, with a headfirst slide, beat a long throw from strong-armed Hawpe that was just off line.

Varitek’s sacrifice fly tied it at 1. Jacoby Ellsbury drew a walk and stole second, but Jimenez retired Julio Lugo with runners at second and third to end the inning.

Schilling settled in after allowing a run in the first. Twenty days shy of his 41st birthday, he got an inning-ending double play in the second and struck out two in the third. He put the leadoff batter on in the next two innings, but pitched out of trouble.

The Rockies flashed their speed in the first, one key element that sent them on that incredible surge into the Series.

Schilling hit Willy Taveras on the left hand with a 1-2 pitch and he raced to third when Holliday’s single deflected off the glove of a diving Lowell at third.

Helton’s RBI groundout put Colorado ahead.

Notes:@ Matsuzaka left for Denver about 5 p.m in preparation for Game 3. … Of the 50 previous teams that took a 2-0 lead in the World Series, 39 went on to win — including six straight and 12 of the last 13. … Okajima became the first Japanese-born pitcher to play in a World Series game. He struck out four, including former Japanese star Kaz Matsui. … Jimenez had a 1.59 ERA in two playoff starts. … James Taylor, a lifelong Red Sox fan, sang the national anthem.


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Red Sox are the heavies now

BOSTON – As late-inning runs kept scoring against the Cleveland corpse, a frenzied Fenway sang and swayed at a comeback so complete, so cutthroat, the most stunning thing happened: the Red Sox morphed into the Yankees.

After eight decades of chasing down their New York rival, they’ve now replaced them as the monsters of October. They trail significantly in championships won and excellence sustained, but they’re presently a team as relentlessly powerful as confident and clutch.

Sunday it was an 11-2, Game 7 clubbing of the Indians, sending Boston back to the World Series to seek its second title in 89 – or four – years. Only this time the Sox enter with none of the baggage and few of the questions that always plagued this franchise.

Now they are the team with so much talent and tenacity that if you get them down you need to drive a stake through their heart. If not, they’ll come back and break yours.

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