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Sports

Lowe hits top for Red Sox

| Thursday, Oct. 28, 2004

ST. LOUIS -- Derek Lowe came through where Dave Ferriss failed. And Jim Lonborg. And Roger Clemens and Bruce Hurst, too.

With the Red Sox one precious win from that elusive World Series title, 27 huge outs from the moment much of New England has prayed for, Lowe came through with the game of a lifetime, a moment that will be replayed over and over as long as baseball is played in Boston.

After 85 years of futility, it was Lowe who helped the Red Sox get over the top. He shut out the St. Louis Cardinals on three hits in seven innings, and completed an amazing World Series sweep -- the first ever for the Red Sox -- with a 3-0 victory Wednesday night.

Ferriss left in the fifth inning of Game 7 in the 1946 Series with St. Louis ahead 3-1, and Lonborg lasted six innings in the seventh game in 1967, piling up a 7-1 deficit. Clemens turned a 3-2 lead over to his bullpen in the sixth game in 1986, but it wasn't enough. And Hurst blew a 3-0 lead two nights later in Game 7 and left with the score tied.

Lowe didn't take any chances, putting up zeros on the scoreboard as Johnny Damon's leadoff homer in the first and Trot Nixon's two-run double in third provided the offense.

Before the game, Lowe was in Boston's dugout on the third-base side of Busch Stadium.

"If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands," he sang.

The 31-year-old right-hander, born in Dearborn, Mich., and a resident of Boston's spring training town of Fort Myers, Fla., has been with the Red Sox since 1997, was their closer in 2000 and much of 2001 before 10 losses in relief caused Boston to bounce him back to the rotation.

Then, the following April 27, he pitched a no-hitter against Tampa Bay. But he went 0-3 in the playoffs in 2003 and this year, the final season in his contract, slumped to a 14-12 record and a 5.42 ERA.

By the time the playoffs came around, he was out of the rotation, only to wind up starting twice against the Yankees as Boston scrambled back from an 0-3 deficit.

Grady Little, Terry Francona's predecessor, had questioned whether Lowe was out too late at night and suggested that Lowe's body language on the mound was a sign of trouble.

"When Pedro (Martinez) pitches a bad game, he pitches a bad game. ... When I pitch bad, I'm a mental Gidget," he said last July after a string of bad outings.

Boston had looked far and wide for the pitcher who could get that final win, could lead the Red Sox back to the title. He was in the clubhouse all the time.

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