BOSTON — Just when it seemed Michael Wacha had cracked, the Cardinals began scooting around the bases and tied the World Series.
Wacha beat John Lackey in a matchup of present and past rookie sensations, and this time it was St. Louis' turn to take advantage of sloppy fielding as the Cardinals topped the Red Sox 4-2 Thursday night to even the Series at one game apiece.
David Ortiz put Boston ahead in the sixth inning with a two-run homer just over the Green Monster in left, ending Wacha's scoreless streak at 18⅔ innings, a rookie record for a single postseason.
But Lackey, who in 2002 with the Angels became the first rookie in 93 years to win a World Series Game 7, faltered in a three-run seventh. And a night after the Cardinals made three errors and allowed the Red Sox to romp 8-1, the fielding failures were on the other side.
"I believe it's a momentum sport, and the statistics back it," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.
St. Louis went ahead when Matt Carpenter hit a sacrifice fly that led to two runs, with the second scoring on errors by catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and reliever Craig Breslow.
Rightfielder Carlos Beltran, back in the lineup after bruising ribs in the opener, followed with an RBI single.
"I wanted to be in the lineup. I worked so hard to get to this point," Beltran said. "Somebody would have to kill me in order for me to get out of the lineup."
When the Series resumes Saturday night in St. Louis, Jake Peavy starts for the Red Sox and Joe Kelly for the Cardinals. Twenty-nine of the previous 55 teams that won Game 2 to tie the Series won the title.
"This time of the year, with what our guys have proven over the long haul, we're looking forward to the challenge of going into what should be a great environment over in St. Louis," Red Sox manager John Farrell said.
Wacha, a 22-year-old right-hander, was the NL Championship Series MVP after beating Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw twice. Wacha wasn't quite as sharp in this one, walking four in six innings and throwing a career-high 114 pitches. When he reached the dugout after Ortiz's homer, he slammed his glove onto the bench.
Still, the rookie improved to 4-0 with a 1.00 ERA in four outings this postseason, matching the amount of regular-season wins he has in his brief career.
"He pitched outstanding," Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina said. "Just one pitch, to a great hitter like Big Papi. We take our hat off to him, but I mean, he pitched good."
Wacha's parents and sister made the trip from Texarkana, Texas, and sat bundled in cold-weather clothes in the stands to watch the 19th pick in last year's amateur draft.
The Cardinals' hard-throwing bullpen combined for one-hit relief. Carlos Martinez got six outs, retiring Mike Napoli on an inning-ending popup with two on in the eighth. Trevor Rosenthal struck out the side in the ninth for a save, whiffing Daniel Nava with a 99 mph fastball to end it.
All three St. Louis pitchers were 23 or younger.
"It doesn't surprise me. Those guys got talent," Molina said. "Like I said before many times, they're not afraid to pitch."
Seeking its second championship title in three seasons, St. Louis improved to 7-0 this postseason when scoring first and stopped Boston's World Series winning streak at nine. That run began with a sweep of the Cardinals in 2004, when St. Louis never led the entire Series.