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              === Lester leads Boston to brink of Series title ===
 
 St.  Louis,  MO (SportsNetwork.com) - Jon  Lester put his name among other Red
 Sox  legends  with a sublime  Game 5 performance that  has Boston one win away
 from its third World Series title since 2004.
 
 Lester  retired 12 straight at one point Monday and Boston scored twice in the
 seventh  to take  a pivotal 3-1 victory  over the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch
 Stadium.
 
 It was the fourth consecutive game decided by two runs or less in this roller-
 coaster  Fall Classic, with  the Red Sox taking the last two on the road for a
 3-2 series lead.
 
 Lester  (2-0)  allowed only  four hits, did  not walk a  batter and struck out
 seven over 7 2/3 innings to join Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez as the only
 Boston pitchers with six career postseason wins.
 
 "I  expect a lot of high things from myself, as do my teammates," Lester said.
 "You  don't want  to let those guys down.  And we're all trying to pull on the
 same  rope and get  to one common goal. And that's what makes this team pretty
 special."
 
 David  Ross broke a  1-1 tie with an RBI double in the seventh, the sixth time
 in these playoffs the Red Sox have pushed across the go-ahead run in the sixth
 inning or later of a victory.
 
 David Ortiz had another productive night for Boston, going 3-for-4 with an RBI
 to  boost  his average  in the  series to an  otherworldly .733 (11-of-15). He
 matched  Billy Hatcher's World Series record by reaching base in nine straight
 plate appearances before lining out in the sixth.
 
 Ortiz  doubled in a run in the first inning against Adam Wainwright (0-2), who
 settled  in  after another slow  start but faltered  late to suffer his second
 loss of the series.
 
 "We felt this was going to be a classic pitcher's duel; it was shaping up that
 way.  Fortunately we were able to break through," Red Sox manager John Farrell
 said. "We're excited about going home in the position we are."
 
 Like  the  setback in Game 1,  the only run St.  Louis mustered came on a Matt
 Holliday homer.
 
 The  series shifts back  to Boston for Game 6 on Wednesday, with Michael Wacha
 squaring  off against John  Lackey in a rematch of Game 2 won by the Cardinals
 rookie.
 
 "Our guys have been backed up against the wall before," Cardinals manager Mike
 Matheny  said.  "This is something that  isn't foreign to them. They know what
 they have to do."
 
 Wainwright  fanned  10 over  seven frames  and was charged  with three runs on
 eight hits and one walk -- the critical walk coming in the deciding frame.
 
 Rookie  standout  Xander Bogaerts  singled with  one away  in the seventh, and
 Stephen  Drew, who was  hitless in his previous 13 at-bats, worked a free pass
 after being down 1-2 in the count.
 
 With his pitch count now over 100, Wainwright was laboring and missed his spot
 again  on a 1-2 pitch. Ross hooked the errant curve ball just inside the left-
 field line and it bounced into the stands to push across the go-ahead run.
 
 Bogaerts  scored on the ground-rule double, and after Lester grounded out back
 to the mound, Jacoby Ellsbury sent a sinking liner to center to bring in Drew.
 Ross was thrown out at home by Shane Robinson, but the damage was done.
 
 Lester,  who  faced criticism  in the  Game 1 aftermath  when video revealed a
 strange  substance in his glove, mowed down 12 straight hitters after Holliday
 took him deep in the fourth.
 
 David  Freese broke the string with a one-out double in the eighth, and Lester
 retired Pete Kozma on a flyout before being pulled for Koji Uehara, who fanned
 pinch-hitter  Matt  Adams and retired  the side in order  in the ninth for his
 seventh save of the postseason.
 
 John  Farrell  slightly moved Boston's lineup  around, and the tweaks paid off
 early  when Dustin  Pedroia, batting  second instead  of third,  lined an  0-2
 breaking ball to the left-field wall for a two-bagger in the first inning.
 
 Ortiz  followed  with a sharp ground  ball past the first-base bag and Pedroia
 scored  on the double, giving Ortiz 14 RBI in his World Series career to match
 Dwight Evans' club record.
 
 "I've  got my mindset, I've been playing this game for too long, and when I go
 to  the plate, I try to look for a strike and try not to get out of it," Ortiz
 said. "And that's pretty much what I've been doing all year."
 
 Lester  cruised through the first three innings. The left-hander erased Carlos
 Beltran  in  the second on a  double-play ball off  the bat of a hobbled Allen
 Craig,  then  stranded Freese in scoring  position an inning later by freezing
 Matt Carpenter with a payoff pitch.
 
 After  catching  Robinson looking  to start  the fourth,  Lester made his only
 costly  mistake as  Holliday got  his hands  inside a  93 m.p.h.  fastball and
 muscled it to straightaway center for his second home run of the series.
 
 The  blast  snapped Lester's  impressive scoreless innings  streak in the Fall
 Classic, which was at 13 1/3 innings coming into the game.
 
 Beltran flew out to the wall three pitches later, and Drew made a leaping grab
 to rob Yadier Molina of a hit to end the fourth.
 
                                   Game Notes
 
 Lester  has given up just one run over 21 innings in three World Series starts
 ...  Wainwright  was 4-0  with a  1.07 ERA  in eight  postseason games -- four
 starts  -- in St. Louis ... Ortiz has a Red Sox record nine extra-base hits in
 World  Series play ...  With 14 more strikeouts, the Red Sox set a record with
 156  strikeouts  this postseason. The  2010 champion San Francisco Giants held
 the  previous  mark with  142 ...  Molina went 0-for-3  to snap his seven-game
 hitting streak in the World Series ... Craig, playing first base for the first
 time this series, was also hitless in three at-bats.
 
 10/29 00:42:12 ET

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