BOSTON » The Boston 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 Detroit Tigers on Saturday night, clinching the AL Championship Series in six games and setting up a World Series rematch with the St. Louis 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 Los Angeles Dodgers in six games.
"We’ve still got one more step," Victorino said.
Best of seven; x-if necessary
All games televised by KHON (Ch. 3)
St. Louis vs. Boston
» Wednesday: St. Louis at Boston, 2:07 p.m.
» Thursday: St. Louis at Boston, 2:07 p.m.
» Saturday: Boston at St. Louis, 2:07 p.m.
» Next Sunday: Boston at St. Louis, 2:15 p.m.
» x-Oct. 28: Boston at St. Louis, 2:07 p.m.
» x-Oct. 30: St. Louis at Boston, 2:07 p.m.
» x-Oct. 31: St. Louis at Boston, 2:07 p.m.
With 21-game winner Max Scherzer on the mound, Detroit took a 2-1 lead in the sixth and held it until Boston loaded the bases on a double, a walk and an error by shortstop Jose Iglesias. Victorino lofted an 0-2 pitch from Jose Veras over the Green Monster to set off a celebration in the Red Sox dugout and in the Fenway Park stands.
Junichi Tazawa got one out for the win, Craig Breslow pitched a scoreless eighth and 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 Colorado Rockies to win it all for the second time in four seasons. Boston swept the Cardinals in ’04, winning Game 4 in St. Louis to clinch the title that put an end to 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 on 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 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 got ahead of Victorino, who hails from Maui. 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 left no doubt.
—Jimmy Golen / Associated Press
Young arms are key for the Cardinals in the World Series
ST. LOUIS » At the trade deadline in July, the Cardinals appeared to be in the market for starting pitching. Instead, St. Louis stood pat and trusted its young arms.
That trust paid off — in a trip to the World Series.
Michael Wacha capped a nearly untouchable month by being selected the NL Championship Series MVP after outpitching Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw for the second time in a 9-0 win in Game 6 on Friday night.
Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright, a 19-game winner, said the 22-year-old rookie has been so good he wouldn’t be surprised if Wacha was on the mound for Game 1 of the Fall Classic on Wednesday at Boston.
"I told them if we have enough time off they might try to get Michael back for Game 1," Wainwright said during the Cardinals’ celebration Friday. "You never know."
Joe Kelly was the strongest member of the rotation for a long stretch in the summer and has been tough in the postseason, too. Closer Trevor Rosenthal hit 100 mph on the stadium radar in finishing off the Cardinals’ 19th NL pennant. Carlos Martinez emerged as the setup man, 41st-round draft pick Kevin Siegrist had a lights-out 0.43 ERA and Seth Maness was one of the best at inducing the double-play ball.