BOSTON – The Boston Red Sox are going back to the World Series for the third time in 10 seasons.
Shane Victorino’s seventh-inning grand slam propelled Boston to a 5-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Saturday night, clinching the A.L. championship series in six games and setting up a World Series rematch with the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Red Sox will host Game 1 on Wednesday night against the team they swept in 2004 to end their 86-year title drought. The Cardinals won the N.L. pennant on Friday night by eliminating the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games.
“We’ve still got one more step,” Victorino said.
With 21-game winner Max Scherzer on the mound, Detroit took a 2-1 lead in the sixth and held it until Boston loaded the bases on a double, a walk and an error by shortstop Jose Iglesias. Victorino lofted an 0-2 pitch from Jose Veras over the Green Monster to set off a celebration in the Red Sox dugout and in the Fenway Park stands.
Junichi Tazawa got one out for the win, Craig Breslow pitched a scoreless eighth and Koji Uehara got the last three outs before the Red Sox poured out of the dugout to begin their now-familiar celebration on the mound.
“It’s been a special ride,” second baseman Dustin Pedroia said, “and we’re still going.”
Uehara was selected the series MVP after posting three saves and a win. Then he joked about pitching so well under pressure.
“To tell you the truth, I almost threw up,” Uehara kidded through a translator.
It’s the 13th A.L. pennant for the Red Sox and their first since 2007, when they swept the Colorado Rockies to win it all for the second time in four seasons. Boston swept the Cardinals in ‘04, winning Game 4 in St. Louis to clinch the title that put an end to generations of disappointment.
The latest trip comes one year after a last-place finish that forced the team to jettison its high-priced stars, rebuild the roster and bring in manager John Farrell. Victorino was one of the biggest additions, and he delivered on Saturday as he did for much of the season.