for this game

Schilling, Lowell provide Red Sox a 2-0 lead

Oct 26, 2007 - 5:48 AM By Jim Keller PA SportsTicker Baseball Editor

BOSTON (Ticker) -- The Colorado Rockies showed up Thursday, but once again they were no match for the Boston Red Sox pitching staff.

Curt Schilling pitched well into the sixth inning and the bullpen did the rest as the Red Sox took a commanding two games to none World Series lead with a 2-1 victory over the mesmerized Rockies at Fenway Park.

Mike Lowell scored the first run and drove in the go-ahead score for Boston, which got a great effort from Josh Beckett and 17 hits in a 13-1 drubbing in the series opener Wednesday.

"Two runs in 18 innings in this ballpark isn't going to get it done," Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said. "We've been down to one strike before, so we've been here. We have a big challenge ahead of us. We're going home and hope to get something going."

The Red Sox now head to Denver for potentially three games starting Saturday with a chance to close out the Rockies without having to return to Boston.

"We're up 2-0, the fact of the matter is that is a damn good team," Schilling said. And they're gonna claw and grind and we're going to have to keep grinding away and win it one inning at a time starting Saturday."

"Obviously, you don't want to come in here and lose two games," Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said. "Obviously, it hurts but the best thing is it's a seven-game series for a reason. We've still got a shot."

Despite allowing the first batter to reach in four of the six innings he started, Schilling was pretty much in control, throwing first-pitch strikes to 18 of the 22 batters he faced and allowing just one run, four hits and a pair of walks.

"He has a lot of experience. He knows how to pitch," Hurdle said. "He changed speeds, worked in his splitter and stayed away from the middle of the plate.

"He's a competitor."

Schilling was relieved in the sixth after a one-out single by Matt Holliday and a walk to Todd Helton.

"Actually the inning before - it was a long inning - and he was down in the tunnel trying to stay loose," Francona said. "I've been around him so much so I known his body language pretty good.

"We didn't want to give up a run because somebody is stiff. So we were ready for it."

Schilling, who improved to 10-2 in the postseason, left to a standing ovation in what could be the free agent's last start in a Red Sox uniform. The 40-year-old tipped his hat twice as he walked off the mound to congratulations and high-fives from his teammates.

But Schilling said he's not thinking about his future.

"We are trying to win a World Series and that stuff will all take care of itself when it's supposed to," Schilling said. "I'm just so appreciative of the support (my family) and I have gotten since the day I stepped into this organization and it's another memory that I will never forget.

"They know what I want - to come back - but it's not even worth thinking about it. Whatever happens, happens."

Hideki Okajima gave the fans even more to cheer about when he retired Garrett Atkins on a slow roller to third and struck out fellow lefthander Brad Hawpe to continue his perfect postseason.

"They pitched well tonight," Helton said. "Schilling's obviously been in a lot of big games before and he pitched a good game tonight, located his ball well and they scored one more than us."

The Japanese All-Star then retired his next five batters - including the least three on strikes - to run his postseason streak of consecutive scoreless innings to 9 2/3 before yielding to Jonathan Papelbon.

"This was the Papi-jima show tonight," Schilling said. "That was just phenomenal to watch. It's a testament to how dominating the bullpen was. Okajima was perfect tonight, absolutely perfect. Those two guys - and Mikey Lowell got a clutch hit - were the story tonight. We had to have it and we got it tonight."

The closer surrendered a line single to Holliday - his fourth hit of the game - that second baseman Dustin Pedroia could not come up with, but Papelbon picked off the Rockies left fielder to end the eighth.

"I got the sign from the dugout and I kind of just held the ball for a second and got relaxed," Papelbon said. "I didn't know if he was going or not."

"We knew that Matt could still a bag, he has 11 in 15 attempts, so we were aware," Varitek said.

Papelbon pitch 1 1/3 innings, allowing one hit and striking out two for his second save of the postseason.

Colorado scored its lone run off Schilling in the first without getting a ball out of the infield. The righthander got ahead of leadoff hitter Willy Taveras but hit him with a 1-2 fastball on the left hand. After Kaz Matsui flied out to deep left-center, Holliday hit a one hopper down the third base line that bounced off Lowell's glove into foul territory.

Taveras, who was running on the pitch, easily advanced to third and Holliday advanced to second when Lowell's soft toss to third got by Schilling for an error. Helton plated Taveras with a grounder to first.

Lowell more than made up for his gaffe in the fifth with an RBI double - his eighth hit in 15 at-bats with runners in scoring position this postseason - off Colorado starter Ubaldo Jimenez, who started the game strong but tired.

If Colorado was going to get back into the series, it needed a big effort from Jimenez, who allowed just two combined runs in 11 1/3 innings in his first two postseason starts. And the 23-year-old didn't look rusty or in awe of the Red Sox, needing just six pitches to get through the first inning and facing just four batters in the second.

"For a first-year pitcher, he gave us everything he had," Hurdle said. "We knew they were a disciplined and they elevated his pitch count some, but he battled and made some big pitches."

The 6-4 lanky Dominican passed his first test in the third when after issuing a pair of two-out walks, he survived a foul home run by David Ortiz before striking him out on a check swing off a 2-2 slider.

Boston finally got to the flamethrower, who was using both a breaking ball and occasional changeup to complement his mid-90s fastball, in the fourth. Lowell worked a one-out walk and advanced to third on a line single to right-center field by J.D. Drew, who advanced to second on the throw.

Jason Varitek followed with a sacrifice fly to deep center field, but Jimenez escaped after a walk to Jacoby Ellsbury when he retired Julio Lugo on a slow roller to first. Jimenez caught a break earlier in the at-bat when Lugo grounded a ball just foul down the third base line that would have gone into the left field corner.

But Jimenez wasn't as fortunate in the fifth. After retiring the first two batters, he walked Ortiz before Ramirez singled hard to left.

Lowell then lined a 2-1 breaking pitch that was left out over the plate into the left field corner, scoring "Big Papi" with the go-ahead run and prompting Rockies manager Clint Hurdle to make a pitching change.

"I think we've had that mentality basically since the 3-1 deficit with the Indians and I think that's the right mentality to have," Lowell said of the team's patience at the plate. "We want to keep pushing forward. We want to keep grinding out at-bats and innings and hopefully, at the end of nine innings, we're ahead."

Jeremy Affeldt walked Drew to load the bases, but Matt Herges came in and retired Varitek on an easy fly to left.

Colorado reliever Brian Fuentes kept the game close in the sixth when he retired Ortiz on a flyout to center field with runners on the corner and two outs.

Fuentes got the next five outs before Manny Corpas got the last out of the eighth to keep it a one-run deficit.