Emily Elizabeth Theresa
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DENVER -- A scintillating seven-game winning streak that began in Cleveland with the season on the brink of elimination ended Sunday night with the Red Sox mobbing each other in the thin air of Coors Field of all places, culminating in a World Series championship that didn't take even close to 86 years this time around.
By sweeping the Rockies with a 4-3 victory in Game 4, the Red Sox are champions of Major League Baseball for the second time in four seasons, once again doing it by giving their National League opponent the broom treatment. It was the seventh -- there goes that number again -- time the Red Sox have won the World Series.
Give the Rockies credit for this, they didn't quit. Down, 4-1, in the bottom of the eighth, Garrett Atkins blasted a two-run homer to left against Hideki Okajima, putting the heat on the Red Sox.
Out of the bullpen came closer Jonathan Papelbon, entrusted with recording the final five outs to get the Red Sox to their ultimate goal. Papelbon accomplished that mission with his third save of this World Series. The right-hander didn't allow a run in the seven games he pitched in this postseason.
There was also a feel-good touch to the end of the script, as left-hander Jon Lester, who was undergoing chemotherapy treatments for anaplastic large cell lymphoma at this time last year, fired 5 2/3 shutout innings against the Rockies to earn the win in his first career postseason start.
Aaron Cook, making his first start since Aug. 10 because of a left oblique strain, hung tough (six innings, six hits, three runs) for the Rockies in a losing effort.
But the Red Sox did enough offensively to get the job done. Mike Lowell belted a solo homer in the top of the seventh to give Boston a 3-0 lead.
Brad Hawpe drew the Rockies within two on a solo shot to right against Manny Delcarmen in the bottom of the seventh. But after Mike Timlin navigated the Red Sox through the final two outs of that inning, Bobby Kielty opened the eighth with a pinch-hit homer to push the lead back to three runs.
Don't let the relative ease of the World Series conquest fool you. The ride to the pinnacle was anything but easy for the Red Sox. They trailed the Indians, 3-1, in the American League Championship Series before climbing out of that seemingly daunting deficit.
If the script sounds reasonably familiar, it should. In 2004, the Red Sox came back from 3-0 down to beat the Yankees in the ALCS and finished that championship ride with eight straight wins.
After taking over first place in the AL East for good on April 18 and winning 96 games during the regular season, Boston went 11-3 in the postseason.
In Game 4 of the World Series, the Red Sox again set the tone early. Jacoby Ellsbury, fresh off his four-hit performance in Game 3, led the game off with a double. He moved to third on a groundout by Dustin Pedroia and scored on David Ortiz's single to right.
Cook held the Red Sox down for a while after that first, throwing three straight shutout innings. But the Boston bats came alive in the fifth. Lowell got it started with a leadoff double to center and belly-flopped home on a one-out single to right by Jason Varitek. After Julio Lugo followed with a single, Cook struck out Lester and Ellsbury to keep it at 2-0.