Red Sox take opener

BOSTON – Given a bit of help by the umpires and a lot more by the St. Louis Cardinals, the Boston Red Sox turned this year’s World Series opener into a laugher.

Mike Napoli hit a three-run double right after the umps reversed a missed call, Jon Lester made an early lead stand up and Boston defeated sloppy St. Louis 8-1 on Wednesday for its ninth straight Series win.

The entire six-man umpiring crew huddled in the first inning and flipped a ruling on a forceout at second base – without looking at any video.

“I think based on their group conversation, surprisingly, to a certain extent, they overturned it and I think got the call right,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said.

Three pitches later, Napoli gave Boston the lead.

“You rarely see that,” Napoli said before adding, “especially on a stage like this.”

Lester permitted five hits over 7-2/3 shutout innings for his third victory this postseason.

Game 2 is scheduled for today.

Boston’s David Ortiz was robbed of a grand slam by Carlos Beltran – a catch that sent the star right fielder to a hospital with bruised ribs – but later hit a two-run homer after third baseman David Freese’s bad throw.

The Red Sox also capitalized on two errors by shortstop Pete Kozma to extend a Series winning streak that began when they swept the Cardinals in 2004.

It got so bad for St. Louis that the crowd laughed when pitcher Adam Wainwright and catcher Yadier Molina, who’ve combined for six Gold Gloves, let an easy popup drop untouched between them.

Kozma’s first error came on the changed call. There was no dispute, however, that the umpires correctly decided Kozma had not caught a soft toss from second baseman Matt Carpenter on a potential forceout.

“It’s a pretty tough time to debut that overruled call in the World Series. Now, I get that trying to get the right call, I get that. Tough one to swallow,” said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny.

During audio played on the Fox telecast, crew chief John Hirschbeck told Matheny: “There’s five of us out here, OK? And all five of us agreed 100 percent that it wasn’t a catch. Our job is to get it right.”

St. Louis’ Matt Holliday led off the top of the ninth with a home run off Ryan Dempster.

Boston almost made a terrific play to end the game. With two out in the ninth, Shane Victorino, the only Maui-born All-Star in major league history, nearly threw Freese out at first base from right field on a sharp single. The next batter, Matt Adams, struck out.



Umpires-Home, John Hirschbeck; First, Mark Wegner; Second, Dana DeMuth; Third, Paul Emmel; Right, Jim Joyce; Left, Bill Miller.

T-3:17. A-38,345 (37,499).