for this game

Lester leads Red Sox to World Series title

Oct 29, 2007 - 6:46 AM By Jim Keller PA SportsTicker Baseball Editor

DENVER (Ticker) - Jon Lester has been perhaps the best feel-good story in baseball in 2007. On Sunday night at Coors Field he was just simply good.

Lester pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings and Mike Lowell capped an outstanding postseason with a home run as the Boston Red Sox wrapped up their seventh World Series championship and second in four years with a 4-3 Game Four victory over the Colorado Rockies.

Boston withstood late-inning homers by Brad Hawpe and Garrett Atkins to hold on to the 23rd four-game sweep in the Fall Classic.

"This team's got a lot of heart," Boston catcher Jason Varitek said. "We worked real hard. We just beat a really, really good team."

With an outstanding everyday lineup and the best starting rotation and bullpen heading into the season, the Red Sox were favored by many to win the World Series.

"A lot of people are expecting you to win a world championship, and if you don't it's a disappointing year," Lowell said. "For us to come through and do what we thought we were capable of doing is unbelievable. We've got a lot of people to give credit to."

Boston combined a lethal offense with dominant pitching to put an emphatic end to Colorado's season, one that strung together wins in 21 of 22 games before enduring an eight-day layoff prior to the World Series.

"There's not doubt the layoff hurt us, Colorado first baseman Todd Helton said.

"We just didn't score enough early in games," Rockies left fielder Matt Holliday. "We didn't give our pitchers any lead. We just couldn't score early and that ended up costing us. You make it difficult on your pitchers when you can't give them the lead early."

Lowell had two hits off game Rockies starter Aaron Cook and Bobby Kielty also homered as Boston won its eighth straight World Series game - they swept St. Louis in 2004 - and seventh straight triumph this postseason by a combined score of 59-15.

Boston outscored Colorado, 29-10, in the series and allowed the National League upstarts, who were appearing in the postseason for the first time since 1995 and their first World Series all-time, to lead for a total of three innings - all in Game Two.

"There's only one team that finishes at this point each year and we're very fortunate," said Lowell, who was named World Series MVP. "I think we have to tip our hats to the Rockies, not a lot of people gave them credit the whole series.

"I've never seen a team win 20 of 21 when it mattered like that and even when they were down they kept swinging the bats. We tried to keep it together and what gave us the best chance to win and we did a good job with that. We executed very well."

Lester, who made two relief appearances in the American League Championship Series against the Cleveland Indians, was making his first start since September 26, when he was knocked out in the fifth inning against the Oakland Athletics. He yielded just three hits and three walks in 92 pitches over 5 2/3 innings, leaving after issuing a two-out walk to Garrett Atkins.

"Lester was phenomenal," Varitek said. "He was in some tough spots and he made pitches and stayed aggressive through the zone."

But Manny Delcarmen came back from a 2-0 count to strike out Ryan Spilborghs to end the sixth and ensure Lester of the spotless line.

The 23-year-old lefthander's career was in jeopardy last season after being diagnosed with lymphoma in late August of 2006. But a series of offseason chemotherapy treatments put the cancer in remission, and Lester worked his way back into the Red Sox rotation by late July.

"I'm ecstatic for him," Lowell said. "Not many thought he would be in that position, and against a great hitting team like Colorado. I know he's had to deal with some things - he and I have somewhat of a bond going through the same thing, I'm just so happy for him. I know what he's going through."

Delcarmen yielded a long home run to right by Hawpe in the seventh and a one-out single to pinch hitter Cory Sullivan before yielding to Mike Timlin, who quieted the Rockies' fans by striking out Kaz Matsui and Troy Tulowitzki - his third of the game.

"Those outs were huge," Francona said.

Kielty then came on as a pinch hitter and launched the first pitch of the eighth inning from lefthander Brian Fuentes into the left field seats for a 4-1 lead.

"He was sitting around being a professional, knowing his job," Francona said of Kielty. "He put a good swing on it. That was the difference in the game."

The Rockies answered back off Hideki Okajima, who was tagged with a two-run homer to left by Atkins with one out in the eighth, cutting the deficit to 4-3.

Jonathan Papelbon then took over and tossed 1 2/3 scoreless frames for his third save this series and fourth in the postseason while finishing the postseason with 10 2/3 scoreless innings. All three of Papelbon's World Series saves were for more than an inning.

He was helped when Ellsbury grabbed a hard line drive hit by Jamey Carroll up against the left field fence.

With the entire stadium standing, Papelbon struck out pinch hitter Seth Smith swinging on a 2-2 fastball to end it. Papelbon threw his glove into the air and Varitek charged the mound, jumping in the arms of the awaiting closer. A wild celebration followed just to the right of the mound as the entire Boston team joined in.

"When I had two outs, I thought about the guys coming off the bench and wrestling us, but I had to take that out of my mind and start over and refocus," he said. "No out in their lineup is easy, it's a combination of a lot of things. This was a lot of guys putting in a lot of hard work and working together. I just don't know what to say right now."

Lester worked a perfect first and worked around a leadoff double in the second by Todd Helton. Atkins failed to move Helton to third when he grounded out to shortstop, and Helton would then have scored when Ryan Spilborghs flied out to deep center. In the next frame, the lefthander struck out Troy Tulowitzki on a 2-2 slider and Holliday on a 2-2 fastball after Matsui ripped a one-out double over left fielder Manny Ramirez's head.

"So proud of Jon Lester. I know there are so many things to talk about with him, but I was impressed on how he composed himself and pitched well," Francona said. "I'm glad he got the win."

Cook, who had not pitched since August 12 because of an oblique strain, gave the outmanned Rockies more than they could have asked for. The righthander allowed three runs and six hits with no walks and two strikeouts in 70 pitches over six-plus innings.

He left after Lowell's second homer of the playoffs and 15th RBI in 14 games.

Lowell, who also doubled and scored Boston's second run in the fifth, was 6-for-14 with six runs and four RBI against Colorado.

Boston got to Cook early before the sinkerballer settled in. Jacoby Ellsbury, the catalyst in a Game Three 10-5 victory with three doubles, hit his fourth two-bagger in five at-bats when he lined the second pitch of the game down the left field line for an easy double.

The speedster advanced to third on a slow roller to third by Dustin Pedroia and scored when David Ortiz drilled a first-pitch offering from Cook through the right side of the infield for a quick 1-0 lead.

But Ortiz was the last Boston baserunner to reach until Lowell led off the fifth with a double to left-center field. One-out later, Varitek grounded a hard single to right and the slow-footed Lowell made a nice slide at the plate to avoid a tag by catcher Yorvit Torrealba.