By Ronald Blum
AP Sports Writer
BOSTON – Mike Napoli hit a three-run double in the first, and the Boston Red Sox took advantage of a reversed call by umpires and sloppy St. Louis fielding to take a 5-0 lead over the Cardinals after three innings of the World Series opener on Wednesday night.
Carlos Beltran prevented the game from becoming even more of an early blowout, reaching over the right-field wall to rob David Ortiz of a grand slam in the second inning. Playing in the World Series for the first time in a 16-year career, Beltran bruised ribs on his right side and left the game an inning later.
St. Louis, one of the major league’s top-fielding teams, looked more like the Bad News Bears than slick glovesmen as they started their second Series in three seasons.
Second baseman Pete Kozma dropped a throw for an error that set up Napoli’s big hit, pitcher Adam Wainwright and catcher Yadier Molina allowed a popup 40 feet from home plate to fall between them for a single and Kozma let a bouncer roll out of his glove for a second error.
Dustin Pedroia’s RBI single made it 4-0 in the second, and Ortiz wound up with a sacrifice fly on Beltran’s web gem.
Jon Lester, who earned the win that finished Boston’s four-game sweep of Colorado in 2007, allowed one hit and struck out four in the first three innings.
As the World Series returned to 101-year-old Fenway Park, the oldest stadium in the major leagues, the Red Sox were looking to extend their Series winning streak to nine — quite a reverse for a supposedly cursed franchise that didn’t win a title from 1918 until sweeping the Cardinals in 2004. This has turned into a traditional Series matchup, with the Cardinals winning in 1946 and 1967 before Boston’s big win nearly a decade ago.
Wainwright, who had the third-fewest walks per nine innings in the major leagues this season, opened the game by walking Jacoby Ellsbury, and Pedroia singled to center with one out. The game turned on Boston’s fourth batter.
Ortiz hit a slow bouncer to second baseman Matt Carpenter that had an outside chance of being turned into an inning-ending double play.
Carpenter made a backhand flip to Kozma, who while returning to the base allowed the ball to bounce off the edge of his glove’s webbing and fall to the ground.
Second base umpire Dana DeMuth called Pedroia out on a force, indicating the ball was dropped by Kozma while he was making the transfer to his throwing hand. Red Sox manager John Farrell came out to argue.
All six umpires huddled near shortstop to discuss the play, and crew chief John Hirschbeck walked toward the Cardinals dugout and told manager Mike Matheny that Pedroia was being called safe. Matheny then argued to no avail.
Three pitches later, Napoli lined a cutter up the gap in left-center for a bases-clearing double.
Under rules changes contemplated for next season, calls such as this would be subject to video review.
It got worse for the Cardinals in the second. Stephen Drew led off with a routine popup, and Wainwright and Molina stared at each other as the ball fell between them for a single.
No. 9 hitter David Ross followed with a single to center and, one out later, Shane Victorino hit a chopper into the shortstop hole that rolled out of the glove of Kozma — who would have had only an outside chance of getting a force at third with David Freese off the bag.
Pedroia then bounced a single under the glove of a diving Freese at third and into left field to make it 4-0. Ortiz, whose grand slam last weekend boosted Boston over Detroit in the AL championship finale, then hit a drive to deep right. Beltran raced back to the 5-foot, 4.44-inch fence, braced himself with his arm hand and got his glove about 2 feet above the fence to snare Ortiz’s drive.