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The Walkoff: Jon Lester Turns In Ace-Worthy Performance In Red Sox' Game 1 Victory

BOSTON (CBS) – The World Series returned to Boston in grand fashion, with the Red Sox using a three-run first inning and two-run second inning to power their way to an 8-1 victory in Game 1 over the Cardinals.

The early runs proved to be enough due to the dominant performance of Jon Lester, who surely looked like the ace of a championship staff in the second World Series game of his career. The left-hander pitched 7 2/3 innings without allowing a run while striking out eight and walking just one batter, in control from the start of the evening until very close to the end.

The Sox now hold a 1-0 series lead, something they did not have in the previous round against the Tigers.

The Key Moment
It came early, and it was most unexpected, but it was crucial for the Red Sox.

Pete Kozma failed to catch a flip from Matt Carpenter at second base, but umpire Dana DeMuth ruled that the ball was dropped on the transfer, meaning Dustin Pedroia – who was running from first to second on the David Ortiz grounder – was out.

But John Farrell argued, and the umpires met, eventually ruling that Kozma never had the ball and putting Pedroia back on second base.

Mike Napoli then stepped up and made it count, drilling a three-RBI double into the left-center field gap on a 2-0 count to open up a 3-0 lead in the first inning.

You rarely expect umpires to admit they were wrong, but they did in this case.

Coming into the game, Adam Wainwright had allowed just four runs in his 23 postseason innings this year, but those three runs in the bottom of the first changed expectations in a hurry in Game 1.

The Man
Jon Lester, no doubt about it, was the man for the Red Sox.

Even though Napoli delivered that three-run double, and even though David Ortiz hit a two-run homer and came inches from belting a grand slam, it was the Sox' starting pitcher who delivered the best World Series performance on Wednesday night.

He was dominant in some innings, while he pitched himself out of a few jams in others.

His best escape work came in the top of the fourth, when the Cardinals had the bases loaded with one out. Former World Series David Freese hit a comebacker at Lester, who fired home for an out before David Ross threw on to first to complete the 1-2-3 double play to end the frame.

The Goat
You never want to make errors, but you definitely don't want to make errors in the World Series.

The Cardinals had plenty of errors in this one, and they all proved costly. Kozma had the aforementioned drop prior to the Napoli double. Though not an error, Wainwright and Yadier Molina had a miscommunication that allowed Stephen Drew to reach to lead off the second, an inning during which the Red Sox would tack on two more runs. Then, Kozma picked up his second error of the night, just before an RBI single by Pedroia.

Freese had a throwing error later in the game, and on the next pitch, David Ortiz made it count with a two-run homer over the Sox' bullpen.

Defense, defense, defense. It matters, and it killed the Cards in Game 1.

(It must be noted that Carlos Beltran made an absolutely stellar defensive play to rob Ortiz of a grand slam in the second, but it came at a cost. Beltran left the game with a rib contusion and was sent to a nearby hospital for testing. If he can't play in Game 2 or beyond, that removes the most dangerous hitter from St. Louis' lineup.)

The Outlook
A Game 1 win is fun for the Red Sox, but they hardly have time to celebrate. They'll be right back at it Thursday night at Fenway Park for Game 2. Michael Wacha won't be easy to solve, but John Lackey's coming off quite the impressive showing himself. Expect a tighter game when these two teams meet tomorrow.

Read more from Michael by clicking here, or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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