Saturday, June 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Red Sox beat Tigers to reach World Series

BOSTON — The Red Sox are going back to the World Series for the third time in 10 seasons.

Shane Victorino's seventh-inning grand slam propelled Boston to a 5-2 victory over the Tigers on Saturday night, clinching the AL Championship Series in six games and setting up a World Series rematch with the Cardinals.

The Red Sox will host Game 1 on Wednesday night against the team they swept in 2004 to end their 86-year title drought. The Cardinals won the NL pennant on Friday night by eliminating the Dodgers in six games.

"We've still got one more step," Victorino said.

With Cy Young Award favorite Max Scherzer on the mound, Detroit took a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning and held it until Boston loaded the bases on a double, a walk and an error by shortstop Jose Iglesias. Victorino lofted Jose Veras's 0-and-2 pitch over the Green Monster to set off a celebration in the Red Sox dugout and the Fenway Park stands.

Koji Uehara got the last three outs before the Red Sox poured out of the dugout to begin their now-familiar celebration on the mound.

"It's been a special ride," second baseman Dustin Pedroia said, "and we're still going."

Uehara was selected the series MVP after posting three saves and a win. Then he joked about pitching so well under pressure.

"To tell you the truth, I almost threw up," Uehara kidded through a translator.

It's the 13th AL pennant for the Red Sox and their first since 2007, when they swept the Rockies to win it all for the second time in four seasons. In 2004, Boston won Game 4 in St. Louis to clinch the title that ended generations of disappointment.

The latest trip comes one year after a last-place finish that forced the team to jettison its high-priced stars, rebuild the roster and bring in manager John Farrell. Victorino was one of the biggest additions, and he delivered Saturday as he did for much of the season.

"Since the first day of spring training there wasn't one person more important than the next," said outfielder and former Ray Jonny Gomes, also a newcomer this season. "We're all pulling in the same direction."

Scherzer got one out in the seventh but left after walking rookie Xander Bogaerts to put runners on first and second. Drew Smyly got Jacoby Ellsbury to hit a grounder up the middle, but it popped out of Iglesias' glove behind second base and everyone was safe.

Veras came in and quickly got ahead of Victorino. But he hung a curveball and Victorino sent it toward the 37-foot left-field wall, which had already knocked down two Red Sox line drives.

This one, Victorino's second career grand slam, left no doubt.

Scherzer and Clay Buchholz also matched up in Game 2, when the Tigers right-hander took a no-hitter and a 5-0 lead into the sixth. The Red Sox rallied against Detroit's bullpen, tying it on David Ortiz's eighth-inning grand slam and winning it on Jarrod Saltalamacchia's walkoff single through a drawn-in infield.

Both starters gave up hits in the first this time, but it remained scoreless until Bogaerts doubled off the Green Monster with two outs in the fifth and scored on Ellsbury's single.

But the Tigers took the lead on the bottom half, chasing Buchholz with a walk and Miguel Cabrera's single before Franklin Morales walked Prince Fielder on four pitches to load the bases with nobody out.

Victor Martinez lined one high off the Green Monster to make it 2-1, holding at first with a two-run single.

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