Victorino slams Sox into Series

BOSTON – When Shane Victorino signed with the Boston Red Sox as a free agent in the offseason, they were coming off a last-place finish, and had fired their manager for the second year in a row.

Victorino believed they could turn it around – and quickly.

On Saturday, the St. Anthony High School graduate played a major part in getting the Red Sox one step closer to the ultimate comeback, hitting a seventh-inning grand slam in a 5-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers that ended the American League Championship Series in six games.

Boston will host Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday against the St. Louis Cardinals.

“It’s one of those moments you live for,” Victorino said as he wandered around the Fenway Park infield while Red Sox fans serenaded him with his theme song, Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds,” and its chorus, “Don’t worry about a thing, ’cause every little thing is gonna be all right.”

“Just listen to the crowd,” Victorino said, then made reference to the Boston Marathon bombings that took place in April. “The one thing I came here to do is to be a part of this city. With all we went through as a city, there’s definitely a bond.”

Detroit took a 2-1 lead in the sixth and Max Scherzer protected it until the seventh, when Boston loaded the bases – helped by an error by rookie shortstop Jose Iglesias, traded by the Red Sox in July.

Victorino then fell behind Jose Veras 0-2 but lofted a hanging curveball over the Green Monster in left field.

“He’s come up big a number of times this season, none bigger,” Farrell said. “Probably the last thing we’re thinking of, that he’s going to hit a ball out of the ballpark, and thankfully the curveball stayed (up).”

Victorino became just the second major leaguer to have two career postseason grand slams, joining Jim Thome.

Victorino’s first was for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008, in a division series against the Milwaukee Brewers. Philadelphia went on to win the World Series that year.

In the sixth inning Saturday, Victorino was hit by a pitch for the sixth time in this year’s playoffs, extending his record, and for the 10th time in his postseason career, breaking a tie with Alex Rodriguez for the all-time mark.

Junichi Tazawa got one out for the win, Craig Breslow pitched a scoreless eighth and series MVP Koji Uehara got the last three outs for his third save of the ALCS.

“The way I would sum it up is that I thought their starters were good,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “I thought their bullpen was great.”

Jonny Gomes doubled to lead off the seventh inning, and Scherzer left after walking Xander Bogaerts with one out to put runners on first and second. Drew Smyly got Jacoby Ellsbury to hit a grounder up the middle, but it popped out of Iglesias’ glove behind second base and everyone was safe.

The AL pennant is the 13th for the Red Sox, and first since 2007, when they then swept the Colorado Rockies to win the World Series for the second time in four seasons. Boston swept St. Louis in the 2004 Series to end an 86-year title drought.


Buchholz pitched to 2 batters in the 6th.

F.Morales pitched to 2 batters in the 6th.

Smyly pitched to 1 batter in the 7th.

HBP-by Scherzer (Victorino). WP-Scherzer.

Umpires-Home, Dan Iassogna; First, Joe West; Second, Rob Drake; Third, Ron Kulpa; Right, Dale Scott; Left, Alfonso Marquez.

T-3:52. A-38,823 (37,499).