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Boston powers: Pitching, baby10/28/2004 1:07 AM ET
By Jim Street / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- For someone going to pitch the most important game of his life in three hours, Red Sox right-hander Derek Lowe kibitzed freely in the visiting dugout at Busch Stadium on Wednesday afternoon, not a worry in the world.
Lowe banged a seldom-used Louisville Slugger bat on the floor in front of him.
He must have known something good was going to happen.
When you already have been the winning pitcher in the final game of the Division and Championship Series, you might as well add the final game of the World Series as well and end 86 years of misery for a franchise that hadn't done this since 1918.
Lowe did it by tossing seven innings of three-hit shutout baseball in Boston's 3-0 victory over the stunned National League champion Cardinals and a stadium full of red-clad (and red-faced) fans who couldn't believe their beloved Redbirds were ousted so quickly.
It was four-and-over in the 100th World Series and the Red Sox became only the fourth team in history to never trail during the entire Fall Classic.
"It's a great feeling knowing we are bringing the World Series championship home to Boston," the champagne-soaked Lowe said. "It probably will hit home in about a week when we realize what we just did. This is a special team."
The Red Sox finished the postseason on a record eight-game winning streak that started in the ALCS. Anything less than eight wins would have continued the so-called "Curse of the Bambino", which started in 1920 when the team owner sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees.
Lowe and behold, the curse ended on a cool night in Mid-America.
"I can't wait to go back to Yankee Stadium and not hear that '1918' chant anymore," Lowe said.
There is no guarantee that the right-hander will return to the House that Ruth built as a member of the Red Sox. He is eligible for free agency and could be a hot property during the offseason, especially after the way he pitched in the playoffs.
Lowe was the winning pitcher in the final game of the Division Series sweep of the Angels, though he pitched only one inning of relief. He tossed seven superb innings in the decisive Game 7 of the ALCS against the Yankees, which completed Boston's remarkable comeback from a 3-0 deficit. And then Lowe finished it off with gusto in St. Louis.
"Derek was phenomenal," said Tim Wakefield, who would have started Game 5 if there had been one. "He pitched his [rear end] off. He carried us through Game 7 in the ALCS and through Game 4 tonight. I'm so proud of him."
Lowe said he was determined to treat Wednesday night's game like any other game he has pitched. And that is why he was in the dugout, his cap on backwards, his mood upbeat and his focus straight ahead.
"I decided that I am going to the same things I do every single day," he said. "I think you can get into trouble when you do things out of your normal routine. Being yourself definitely helps."
On a team of self-professed "idiots" Lowe is a left-hander who happens to throw right-handed.
"That was classic Derek," Red Sox reliever Mike Timlin said. "He's not orthodox about the way he does things, but there is no doubt about the ability he has and the size of his heart."
Lowe allowed only four baserunners in his seven innings and stranded two of them at third base -- Tony Womack in the first and Edgar Renteria in the fifth. He retired 12 batters in a row between the first and fifth innings.
He fit right into what the Red Sox had in mind when they reported to work.
"We came to the park today with the attitude that this was Game 7," Lowe said. "We didn't want it to go any further because we know what this team [Cardinals] can do. So we focused on ending it today, and to pull it off was a great accomplishment."
It was an astounding bit of pitching for a starter not even in the rotation when the playoffs began.
"We talked to him in Baltimore and told him he was going to the bullpen and he wasn't happy," manager Terry Francona said. "He's a competitor and we told him he had a day to pout, yell or whatever.
"But to his credit, he did what he was supposed to do. He didn't pout. He got himself ready and look what he did."
Lowe pitched one scoreless inning of relief in the Division Series sweep against the Angels and got a "W" behind his name when David Ortiz hit an 11th-inning home run that won Game 3 and completed the sweep.
Then came the start in Game 7 of the ALCS. And now this.
"We're pretty proud of him," Francona said. "Our guys really love him so much and for him to go out there was really, really neat."
Lowe turned the game over to the bullpen. Bronson Arroyo, Alan Embree and Keith Foulke finished it off as the Cards went meekly into the offseason.
"This isn't about me," Lowe insisted. "It's about the 2004 World Series champion Red Sox."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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