WEAU | Eau Claire, Wisconsin | Sports

Red Sox Level Rockies In Game 1

Boston's record-setting offense made it easy for a typically dominant Josh Beckett, pounding out 16 hits and giving the Red Sox a 13-1 lead over Colorado after six innings of Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday night.

Beckett struck out eight and allowed five hits and one walk through six innings to add to his already brilliant postseason performances -- a 3-0 record and 1.17 ERA this year and a 5-2 mark and 1.78 ERA in his career, including the World Series MVP award in 2003.

The story on a soggy night, though, was the Red Sox powerful offense.

In the fifth inning, they scored seven runs -- three more than Beckett has allowed in 29 postseason innings this year.

Colorado's streak of 21 wins in their last 22 games seemed so long ago. It was -- the Rockies had eight days off after sweeping Arizona in the NL championship series -- and the Rockies looked rusty in the light to moderate rain.

Beckett struck out all three batters he faced in the first inning on 97 mph fastballs.

Then Colorado starter Jeff Francis gave up six runs in four innings. In the fifth, Franklin Morales allowed seven runs and Ryan Speier issued three bases-loaded walks before Matt Herges retired the side.

Boston sent 13 batters to the plate -- batting around for the third straight playoff game.

Through six innings, the Red Sox tied World Series records with nine extra base hits and eight doubles. They became the first team to score at least 10 runs in three straight postseason games. And the 13 runs were the most ever by one team in a World Series opener.

The Red Sox were playing in the Series for the second time in four years -- they ended an 86-year title drought in 2004. Curt Schilling, 10-2 with a 2.25 ERA in postseason play, starts Game 2 against Rockies rookie Ubaldo Jimenez on Thursday night.

Red Sox hitters have given Beckett plenty of help. After three innings of each of his postseason starts, they led 4-0, 5-0, 2-0 and 4-0. They won the first three of those 4-0, 10-3 and 7-1.

Counting their wins in the last three games of the AL championship series against Cleveland, they have outscored opponents 43-6.

Boston led 3-0 in the first on Dustin Pedroia's leadoff homer on Francis' second pitch, an RBI single by Manny Ramirez and a run-scoring double by J.D. Drew. David Ortiz doubled in a run in the second.

Colorado cut the lead to 4-1 in the third on doubles by Garrett Atkins and Troy Tulowitzki, then Jason Varitek hit a two-run double off Francis in the fourth, his last inning.

Then came the wild sixth -- six hits, four walks and even a balk.

Julio Lugo led off with a single but was out at second when Jacoby Ellsbury hit into a forceout. Morales then balked but got the second out on Pedroia's popup to shortstop Tulowitzki.

The next nine batters reached base.

Kevin Youkilis and Ortiz doubled in runs and Ramirez followed with an RBI single for a 9-1 lead. Mike Lowell doubled and Varitek walked to load the bases. The next four batters each drove in runs on a single by Drew and walks to Lugo, Ellsbury and Pedroia.

When ALCS MVP Beckett fanned Todd Helton in the second, the right-hander moved within one of the record for most strikeouts to start a World Series game. It was set by Mort Cooper of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1943 and tied by Sandy Koufax of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1963.

Koufax did it against the New York Yankees, striking out Tony Kubek, Bobby Richardson, Tom Tresh, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Beckett's three strikeouts in the first came against Willy Taveras, the only Colorado player with postseason experience, Kaz Matsui, a former teammates of Boston pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka in Japan, and NLCS MVP Matt Holliday.

The Red Sox have a huge edge in experience.

Four of their players won postseason MVP awards -- Schilling, Ramirez and Beckett twice. The Rockies have four games, total, of postseason experience -- all by Taveras with the Houston Astros in 2005, a sweep by Chicago White Sox.

But the last time the teams met, Colorado beat Boston 7-1 in Fenway Park on June 14 to win the interleague series 2-1. Beckett, 9-0 to that point, allowed six runs in five innings. Francis pitched five scoreless innings and began an 8-0 surge.


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