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Lowe takes shot at ending Series
10/27/2004 2:54 AM ET
ST. LOUIS -- Derek Lowe can clinch the World Series for the Boston Red Sox in Game 4 on Wednesday night against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. It is just another page in an odyssey that has taken the right-hander from the bullpen to a starring role this postseason.

When it all began way back at the start of the American League Division Series, Lowe was the odd man out of the playoff rotation. But because of an array of circumstances, he started the decisive Game 7 of the AL Championship Series last Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium.

"It was kind of a long wait," Lowe said. "Sometimes in life you only get an opportunity to go out and pitch a game like that once, and I wasn't going to let that time slide."

It was manager Terry Francona who called in Lowe the last day of the season at Baltimore and told him that Tim Wakefield would get the start behind Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez and Bronson Arroyo against the Angels if there was a fourth game in the best-of-five game ALDS. That series ended with a Red Sox sweep.

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"We told him to take a day or two and get it out for his system. If he wanted to pout, get mad, go ahead, but he was going to help us win," Francona recalled on Tuesday night before Pedro Martinez won Game 3 at Busch Stadium, 4-1. "To his credit he got it out of his system. And because he stayed prepared, look what he did for us. Look what he's going to do for us. I'm thrilled for him."

Lowe baffled the Yankees for six innings, allowing one run and a hit, while walking one and striking out three in the Red Sox's 10-3 victory. He was lifted after throwing only 69 pitches. That's the most recent baseball experience he'll take into what will now be the biggest start of his career on Wednesday night.

"I'm not surprised that Derek Lowe might be ready and set to go, because he's been through a lot and a lot of ups and downs, and I trust him completely," said Martinez, who set up Lowe by winning his first World Series game, allowing no runs on three hits over seven innings. "I'm pretty sure that he's going to come out with a positive attitude and do what I would expect him to do.

"I just hope we give him support and we play defense, which is a big key for him. And I'm pretty sure he's ready, because he's been through everything. He's a warrior, and I believe he's going to come out to do good."

It is now, of course, folklore how the Red Sox came back from a 3-0 deficit in the ALCS to finally vanquish the Yankees. It will be part of that folklore that Wakefield gave up his Game 4 start of the ALCS when he volunteered to pitch 3 1/3 innings of relief as the Yankees romped in Game 3.

Lowe replaced Wakefield the next night at Fenway Park with the season on the line. The rest is baseball history.

"I've won 52 games over the last three years as a starter," Lowe said. "What made Game 7 a little easier is during the last year, that was the third (elimination) game I pitched that would've have sent us home -- Game 3 last year against Oakland (in the ALDS) and Game 4 this year against New York. The more times you get put in those opportunities and you have success, it gives you more confidence."

Lowe was 15-12 with a 5.42 earned run average this season, and went through several fitful periods. He was 1-4 with an 8.19 ERA in May when Schilling determined that Lowe was probably tipping his pitches.

But from July 10 on, he was 8-3, despite finishing 0-2 in his last five appearances. It was his end-of-the-season woes, that originally led to Francona dropping Lowe from the postseason rotation.

Lowe, though, wiped that all out last week in Game 7. He has another chance to redeem himself on Wednesday night, this time with the Red Sox leading the series, 3-0, this time with the weight and hope of the entire Red Sox Nation on his shoulders.

"There's always pressure, I don't care if it's Game 1, Game 7, whenever it is ... there's always pressure to win," Lowe said. "But I'll have the same preparation as I did for Game 4 and Game 7 against New York when we were down. Playing for this organization and playing in Yankee Stadium so many times, it definitely helps, because that's probably the most hostile and most intense place to play. Coming in here we know it's tough, but having played in New York so many times, it's going to help."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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