BOSTON -- The biggest stage apparently isn't too big for Boston Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli.
Napoli hit a double with the bases loaded in the first inning that cleared the bases. Jon Lester and the Red Sox made that stand up in a 8-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of the 2014 World Series Wednesday night.
The three-run double came two pitches after an obviously missed call at second base by umpire Dana DeMuth was overturned.
"I love this stage, the spotlight. I really enjoy this time of the year," said Napoli. "It's just going out there and getting the job done."
It was definitely not the way the National League champions wanted to get started, especially on the road. They committed three errors and had one bone-headed play when Stephen Drew's second-inning [popup fell between starting pitcher Adam Wainwright and catcher Yadier Molina for what had to be scored a single since nobody touched the ball. That led to two runs, one scoring on a Dustin Pedroia single and the other on a David Ortiz sacrifice fly.
Ortiz also hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning off reliever Kevin Siegrist.
"This is not the kind of team we've been all season," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "We were frustrated and embarrassed to a point."
Game 2 is tonight with John Lackey pitching for Boston and rookie Michael Wacha going for the Cardinals, who need a win to even the best-of-seven series at 1-1.
Wainwright gave up a leadoff walk to Jacoby Ellsbury on eight pitches and Dustin Pedroia followed with a one-out single to center. Designated hitter David Ortiz was the next hitter and his grounder to second was fielded by Matt Carpenter. Shortstop Pete Kozma whiffed trying to catch the ball but DeMuth called him out with Ortiz on first.
The other base umpires, led by crew chief John Hirschbeck convened after Cardinals manager Matheny argued for a double play. After the call was overturned, Matheny argued again but to no avail.
"From the dugout, it was pretty clear that the ball just ticked off the fingertips of [Kozma's] glove," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "I think we're fully accepting of the ‘neighborhood play,' but my view was there was really no entry into the glove. To their credit, they did confer based on their group conversation, surprisingly to a certain extent, they overturned it."
That left the bases loaded for Napoli. The first baseman looked at two balls and then got a hitter's pitch. He drove the next pitch to center field near the Green Monster. Ellsbury and Pedroia scored easily and Ortiz came home when centerfielder Shane Robinson bobbled the ball. Robinson was originally given an error but that was later erased and Napoli got credit for three runs batted in.
"I had the bases loaded and I'm just trying to get the ball up in the air into the outfield in that situation," the Boston first baseman said. "I got myself in a good hitter's count and got a pitch I could handle.
In eight World Series games, Napoli has now driven in 13 runs and has a .348 batting average.
Lester, however, was anything but a footnote in this game. The Red Sox left-hander, who has yet to give up a run in two World Series appearances, held the Cardinals scoreless over 7 2/3 innings. He gave up five hits and one walk while striking out eight. Lester, Bruce Hurst and Babe Ruth are the only Boston lefties to ever start Game 1 of a World Series.
"It's very important" to win Game 1, said Lester, "especially at home. You want to make sure you get some wins. Going to St. Louis is going to be tough. You have to bear down and play good baseball and win some games in front of the home crowd."
To reach Howard Herman:
or (413) 496-6253.
On Twitter: @howardherman