ST. LOUIS -- Local excitement about a rare two-game Interleague visit by the Red Sox wasn't exactly shared by Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, who acknowledged beforehand that he's still haunted by World Series losses to Boston in 2004 and '13. Tuesday's outcome, albeit in a game with far more moderate stakes, did nothing to placate those emotions, either.
Behind a quality start from Eduardo Rodriguez and a jolt from Mookie Betts, the Red Sox earned a 6-3 win to slow the surging Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Betts, in his first game since earning American League Player of the Week honors, opened the night with a homer, later tied the game with an RBI groundout and then helped preserve the lead by throwing out Matt Carpenter when he tried to turn a two-out, sixth-inning single into an extra-base hit.
"Yeah, just trying to get a jolt of energy to start the game," Betts said.
Red-hot closer Craig Kimbrel (1.02 ERA) finished with a 1-2-3 ninth, notching his 12th save in 13 opportunities.
"We played a strong game in every phase here tonight, particularly some very good defensive plays," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "Mookie cuts down Carpenter going into second, Deven [Marrero] makes a nice play going to the backhand side so we're able to put ourselves in position, capitalize on some of their miscues and then when you're turning it over to Kimbrel the way he's going right now, it's a pretty good position to be in."
Jackie Bradley Jr. matched Betts with a solo home run to give the Red Sox an early 2-0 lead against Cardinals starter Lance Lynn, who has now served up eight homers in eight starts. Lynn may have gotten through the rest of his six-inning start unscathed if not again hurt by his defense. This time it was an error by third baseman Jedd Gyorko that led to two unearned runs.
"It's a play I have to make," Gyorko said of Marrero's sharp grounder that hit off the heel of his glove. "It's a big play in the game. We could have had two outs and the pitcher coming up [and] Lance probably goes deep in the game. It's a tough one."
Rodriguez gave up three third-inning runs before shutting down the Cardinals' offense for the remainder of his six-inning performance. Rodriguez has a 2.54 ERA over his last six starts, five of which the Red Sox have won.
A pep talk from Red Sox co-aces Rick Porcello and Chris Sale helped inspire Rodriguez after his lone mishap in the third.
"I got out of that inning and Porc and Sale come to me, and Sale just tells me, 'This is where the men go out and show who you are. Just go there and try to limit the damage and fight.' I think that helped me a lot to get back in the game," Rodriguez said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Extra out, extra runs: The Cardinals gifted the Red Sox two baserunners -- Bradley reached on a walk and Marrero on Gyorko's error -- in the fifth inning, and Boston capitalized to steal the lead back from St. Louis. A productive groundout by Betts plated the game-tying run. Dustin Pedroia, who entered the game having hit .300 in his last 10 games, then delivered a two-out RBI single to score Marrero. The Cardinals committed three errors in the game, bringing their season total to 32. Only the A's have more. More >
Short sacrifice:Dexter Fowler helped the Cardinals' offense awaken in the third inning when he drove in the team's first run with a double off the left-field wall and used his speed to give St. Louis the lead. Fowler aggressively advanced to third on Tommy Pham's fly to center, and he alertly came sprinting home when shortstop Xander Bogaerts had to make an over-the-head catch in left field on a ball that outfielder Andrew Benintendi appeared to lose in the lights. It was the fourth sacrifice fly to the shortstop in the Majors this season, and, oddly, Carpenter has now hit two of them.
"They gave me a chance to win, and I didn't get it done. So that's on me. I didn't pick them up tonight, and it cost us the game." -- Lynn, who had a personal four-game winning streak snapped
"I'm thinking maybe [Malik] Monk. He may help [Isaiah Thomas]. Got a couple games in the playoffs to see and then I can answer that. I'm going to study it." -- Betts, when asked who the Boston Celtics should take just hours after they won the NBA draft lottery
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The leadoff homer by Betts was the 10th of his career to tie Jacoby Ellsbury for the franchise record. And the Statcast™ readings demonstrate that he got all of it. The blast had an exit velocity of 103.3 mph and a projected distance of 414 feet. Entering the night, Lynn had allowed one home run and one RBI to right-handed batters this year.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Cardinals lost their challenge in the eighth inning after asking for a review of Bogaerts' steal of second base. Though the ball beat Bogaerts to the bag, a stealthy slide helped him evade the tag. A replay review confirmed the safe call and set up Boston's two-run inning. It also compounded things for struggling reliever Brett Cecil, who walked the only two batters he faced after the unsuccessful pickoff.
"He comes in and makes a perfect pickoff, we have a guy out by two steps, and [Bogaerts] pulls a Houdini act to get in safe at second base," Matheny said. "That's kind of how things roll when you're having trouble getting on a good roll."
WHAT'S NEXT Red Sox: Rick Porcello draws the start in Wednesday's finale of this two-game series. The righty has turned in five consecutive quality starts. First pitch at Busch Stadium is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. ET. Both teams are wearing 1967 throwback uniforms this series to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of a World Series matchup that the Cards won in seven games.
Cardinals: The Cardinals will send the National League's ERA leader, Mike Leake, to the mound at 7:15 p.m. CT Wednesday following a pregame ceremony to honor the '67 World Series champs. Leake has never beaten the Red Sox, but he'll enter the night having made seven quality starts to open the season.