Baseball: Pedroia pulls Red Sox back from the brink to reach World Series

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The Independent Online

The Boston Red Sox advanced to the World Series with a crushing 11-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park on Sunday night, taking the American League Championship Series by a 4-3 margin.

The Red Sox scored six runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to blow open the contest and complete a stunning comeback from a 3-1 series deficit.

The second baseman Dustin Pedroia led the offensive onslaught, hitting a two-run home run in the seventh inning and a three-run double in the eighth as Boston outscored Cleveland 40-8 in their four victories in the series. On the mound, the Japanese rookie Daisuke Matsuzaka worked the first five innings to pick up his first post-season victory, while Jonathan Papelbon pitched the last two innings for the save.

It will be Boston's 11th appearance at the World Series when they host the Colorado Rockies in the first game at Fenway Park tomorrow, with the Red Sox aiming to win a second title in four seasons after their 2004 triumph.

The game ended on a catch by Coco Crisp in deep right-centrefield. "Our season was almost over. When we were down 3-1, you get that sense of urgency," Pedroia said. "Nobody wanted to go home, nobody wanted to say goodbye to each other. Once we got that win in Cleveland [to make it 3-2], we started to believe."

Colorado, who have won 10 in a row and 21 out of 22 games, will come back from a record eight days off for the first game. "The Rockies are on a magical run and we are going to have our hands full. We're going to try and represent the American League the best we can," said the general manager Theo Epstein. "We haven't grown up any since '04. That's part of what keeps these guys so good. It keeps us all loose and we never stop believing."

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