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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 October 2004, 03:57 GMT 04:57 UK
Sox in World Series heaven
By Mark Barden

So, it has finally come to pass - the Boston Red Sox are once again baseball's World Series winners - 86 years after their last success.

Boston's Curt Schilling has pitched with stitches holding his dislocated right ankle tendon in place
Schilling's bravery has been the talk of the Series
Boston's 4-0 demolition of the St Louis Cardinals in the best-of-seven series has ended all those decades of hurt in New England.

Better still, their triumph was partly down to the momentum they had gained after coming back from 3-0 down to beat hated rivals the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series.

After last season's shattering ALCS game seven, 11th inning loss to the Yanks, revenge surely never tasted sweeter for Bostonians.

The downing of the Cardinals also avenged, for older fans at Fenway Park, Boston's 4-3 World Series loss to St Louis in 1967.

Those with even longer memories might still recall the 4-3 defeat by the same opponents in 1946.

The pain of a game-seven World Series-deciding loss was also inflicted on the Red Sox Nation in 1975 by the Cincinnati Reds, and 1986 by the New York Mets.

But all that last-gasp heartache has been well and truly consigned to history by Boston's handsome victory over the Cards who, on paper at least, were no pushovers.

St Louis went into the play-offs with the best regular season record in the Majors - 105 wins and 57 losses - topping the National League Central with ease.

Boston (98-64) were only three games off the pace set by the Yankees in the AL East.

Red Sox fans keep the faith at Fenway Park

But dark thoughts of yet another ALCS loss to their Bronx bogeymen must have lurked in the mind of even the most hardcore BoSox fanatic.

Boston eased past Anaheim 3-0 in their wild card series before those thoughts began to look like a particularly nasty premonition coming true as the Yanks took the first three games of the AL finale.

But the Sox did what no other team has ever done before in a Championship Series, and fought back to stun the big shots from the Big Apple.

David Ortiz's two-run homer sealed a 12th inning win for 3-1, and he claimed the winning hit in a five hours-plus, 14-inning epic to make it 3-2.

Then pitcher Curt Schilling limped to the mound, with stitches holding his displaced right ankle tendons in place, and gave up just one run in seven gritty innings as the series was tied 3-3.

In game seven, on a chilly night in New York, Johnny Damon stepped up to the plate for the Sox and smashed two homers in a 10-3 win. Cue wild scenes of celebration in Beantown.

Compared to that astonishing comeback, the World Series win over St Louis was relatively straightforward after a tight 11-9 victory in game one.

Errant fielding occasionally threatened to dent Boston's confidence.

But, with Schilling playing through the pain in game two, and Pedro Martinez pitching seven shutout innings in game three, the force was with the Sox.

So Boston baseball fans are walking tall, and the infamous Babe Ruth curse is no more.

Even the Bambino would surely concede 86 years was a little too long for the Sox to suffer after selling him to the Yankees...



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