Given a bit of help by the umpires and a lot more by the Cardinals, the Boston Red Sox turned this World Series opener into a laugher.
Mike Napoli hit a three-run double right after the umps reversed a blown call, Jon Lester made an early lead stand up and the Red Sox romped past sloppy St. Louis 8-1 Wednesday night for their ninth straight Series win.
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 Big Papi later hit a two-run homer following 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 St. Louis in 2004. Boston never trailed at any point in those four games and, thanks to this embarrassing display by the Cardinals, coasted on a rollicking night at Fenway Park.
It got so bad for St. Louis that the sellout crowd literally laughed when pitcher Adam Wainwright and catcher Yadier Molina, who've combined to win six Gold Gloves, let an easy popup drop untouched between them.
Serious-minded St. Louis manager Mike Matheny didn't find anything funny, especially when the umpires huddled in the first inning and flipped a call by Dana DeMuth at second base.
The six-man crew correctly ruled that Kozma had not caught a soft toss from second baseman Matt Carpenter on a slow grounder by Ortiz. A season before Major League Baseball employs full replay, fans got to see a wrong get righted.
"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," crew chief John Hirschbeck told Matheny on audio played on the Fox telecast.
The normally slick-fielding Cardinals looked sloppy at every turn. Wainwright bounced a pickoff throw, Molina let a pitch skitter off his mitt, center fielder Shane Robinson bobbled the carom on Napoli's double and there was a wild pitch.
The Cardinal Way? More like, no way.
Game 2 is Thursday night, with 22-year-old rookie sensation Michael Wacha starting for St. Louis against John Lackey. Wacha is 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA this postseason.
Boston brought the beards, but it was a most hairy night for St. Louis. The Cardinals wrecked themselves with only their second three-error game of the season.
The umpires made a mistake, too, but at least they got to fix it in a hurry.