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Sox up big, but not overconfident
10/27/2004 1:21 AM ET
ST. LOUIS -- Yes, they're up three games to none in the World Series. Yes, it would take a colossal collapse to mess up this one. But Red Sox Nation, for this one, follow your players' lead -- don't take this one for granted.

The Yankees, of course, learned that the hard way last week, when they watched a 3-0 lead in the ALCS slip away. Every odd imaginable thing was against the Red Sox at that time. They were in an 0-3 hole to one of the best teams in baseball. They've had absolutely no history of postseason success in 86 years, in terms of winning it all.

And somehow the Red Sox accomplished the unthinkable and beat the Yankees in four straight, beginning a postseason winning streak that increased to seven games when they beat the Cardinals on Tuesday night at Busch Stadium, 4-1.

But forgive the Red Sox if they weren't overly hyped after their Game 3 World Series win. It's not that they lack confidence. It's not that they don't savor every win. It's just that they know better than to rock the boat, just in case those pesky baseball gods may be watching.

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In other words, the Red Sox may be cursed, but they're sure as heck not going to be jinxed. After all, if it can happen to the Yankees, it can happen to them.

"It is big," Manny Ramirez said of their sizeable Series lead. "But we learned our lesson against the Yankees. We lost the first three games, and especially against the Cardinals, they've got such a great team that anything can happen out there."

But you can't ignore the facts. It's not easy to silence Cardinals fans at Busch Stadium, especially when more than 50,000 pack the house, fully confident the 0-2 deficit to the Red Sox was a mere coincidence and that the Cardinals would fix that little problem with three straight wins in a ballpark they haven't lost in all postseason.

The mighty Red Sox, however, have no knowledge of how difficult it is to win at Busch Stadium when you're not the Cardinals. It's safe to say they paid very little attention to the Cardinals at all this year, considering the teams are in different leagues and have not met in Interleague Play since 2003.

So maybe it's better to be clueless than good. In the Sox's case, they just may be both, and it may be enough to win Game 4 at Busch on Wednesday. But let's not talk about that now.

"[Being up] 3-0 means we are in a good position, but we're not done yet," Johnny Damon said. "We need one more win and we definitely are going to shoot for it [Wednesday] night. We had the biggest comeback in the history of sports last week and we definitely don't want to see that repeated."

Doug Mientkiewicz insisted the team is not "giddy" by any stretch of the imagination.

Facts machine
The Red Sox have won seven straight games, and a victory in Game 4 would not only capture the World Series title for Boston, but it would set the record for the most consecutive postseason wins to close out a championship.
ALCS Game 4NY YankeesWon, 6-4 (12)
ALCS Game 5NY YankeesWon, 5-4 (14)
ALCS Game 6NY YankeesWon, 4-2
ALCS Game 7NY YankeesWon, 10-3
WS Game 1St. LouisWon, 11-9
WS Game 2St. LouisWon, 6-2
WS Game 3St. LouisWon, 4-1
The 1998 Yankees beat the Indians in Games 4, 5 and 6 of the ALCS before sweeping all four World Series games against the Padres for seven straight postseason wins to close out a championship, tying the 1976 Reds, who swept the Phillies in a three-game NLCS before sweeping the Yankees in the World Series. The 1995 Braves are the only other club to win seven straight in a postseason.

"We understand that we still have a long way to go and this [Cardinals] team is not going to die," he said. "The Cardinals are not going to go away. The hardest game to win is the game to finish a series, and we understand that better than most.

"It's not over. If you give teams a chance to breathe, they are going to take it and run with it. Each game is a series in itself. They can get hot and win four games in a row. They have done it plenty of times this season and we understand that."

But the 300 or so Red Sox fans who stood behind the Boston dugout for a good hour repeatedly chanting, "One more win!" apparently aren't keeping the same perspective. Fortunatey, cooler heads prevail behind the closed doors of the clubhouse.

"Believe me, it wasn't fun being down 0-3," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "We thought the only way to come back was to approach it the way we did. That's why we continued to approach it like that. I think that's how we'll continue to be successful. I think it's the right way to do things. I think it's the only way."

And the "way" is to not look beyond the next day. But it's got to be hard to do that, considering the next day could bring the Red Sox their first World Series title since 1918 and mark the first Fall Classic sweep since the Yankees beat the Braves in 1999.

"We won't get ahead of ourself that much," Francona said. "In Game 1 we wanted to win Game 1. Once that's over, you move on to Game 2. Once I get done talking about this game, this game is in the past. We'll show up and play tomorrow with different pitchers, different set of circumstances and try to win again. Our only goal is to try to win tomorrow."

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