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After 11 years, Lackey pitches 2nd Series clincher

Wednesday - 10/30/2013, 11:46pm  ET

Carlton Fisk wears a beard as he throws out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 6 of baseball's World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, in Boston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

JIMMY GOLEN
AP Sports Writer

BOSTON (AP) -- John Farrell walked out to the mound, with two on and two out in the seventh inning of a five-run game. The Red Sox manager does not make that trip except to pull his pitcher.

But before he reached the mound, John Lackey was making his case, and quite forcefully: "John, this is my guy."

Farrell went back to the dugout without his pitcher. After a wild pitch and much talk about Grady Little, who notoriously and disastrously left Pedro Martinez in too long in the 2003 AL championship series against the New York Yankees, Lackey walked Matt Holliday to load the bases.

Junichi Tazawa finished the inning, and Lackey's win was secure.

"I wanted to stay in there. I wanted to get that last out in the inning," Lackey said. "But the bullpen guys shut it down. It was a great team win for a great team."

Lackey allowed one run in 6 2-3 innings to help the Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-1 in Game 6 of the World Series on Wednesday night and clinch their third championship in 10 years. Lackey, who also won Game 7 of the 2002 for the Anaheim Angels, is the 11th pitcher in baseball history to win two World Series clinchers, and the third to do it with two different teams.

According to STATS, Lackey joins Jimmy Key (with Toronto in 1992 and the Yankees in '96) and Catfish Hunter (with Oakland in '72 and the Yankees in '78).

For the oft-criticized member of the fried chicken and beer-brigade involved in the team's September 2011 collapse, it was a bit of redemption. Lackey missed all of last season with Tommy John surgery, but he was 10-13 with a 3.52 ERA while receiving bad run support this year.

He was the losing pitcher in Game 2, allowing three earned runs in 6 1-3 innings, then he came out of the bullpen in Game 4 and pitched a perfect inning as Boston tied the series at two games apiece. On Wednesday, he allowed one run on nine hits and a walk, striking out five.

Lackey had a rough relief outing for the Angels in the 2002 Series before giving up three and then one run in a pair of starts. He allowed four hits and striking out four in the clincher against Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants.

"That was a long time ago, man," Lackey said this week. "I think most of those guys in that game aren't even playing anymore."

A rookie then, Lackey is now a veteran of a dozen seasons with two World Series rings. Back then, he said, he was just trying to get the game to the bullpen in good shape.

"My job was just basically not to screw it up," he said.

___

'IF IT STAYS FAIR': Carlton Fisk has been waiting almost 40 years for his chance.

The Hall of Fame catcher, who famously waved his fly ball fair for the winning home run in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series, threw out a ceremonial first pitch before this year's sixth game. The Red Sox took a 3-2 lead in the Series into Wednesday night's game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

"They've lost two and this is the sixth game, so they can win tonight," Fisk told reporters before donning a fake beard to make his first pitch. "That would be great."

The 62-year-old Fisk batted .269 with 376 regular-season homers in a 22-year career with the Red Sox and the Chicago White Sox, retiring as the all-time leader among catchers for home runs and games played. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000.

Fisk said on Wednesday that he was also scheduled to throw out a ceremonial first pitch at Fenway Park in the 2004 World Series. The Red Sox were saving him for Game 6 that year, but they swept the St. Louis Cardinals in four games to end their 86-year championship drought.

Three years later, Boston was back in the series and Fisk was again slated to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 6. Again the Red Sox ended it in four games, and again they clinched it on the road.

"I got left out of the last two, also," Fisk said before Game 6 on Wednesday night, when the Red Sox returned to Fenway after taking a 3-2 lead in the series by winning two of three in St. Louis. "Now I'm saying, OK, 'Why don't you lose a couple of games?' And that's not a real good thing wishing that would happen."

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