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10/28/07 3:30 AM ET

One or done? Rox eye win, Sox eye it all

History says most Series at 3-0 never even reach Game 5

DENVER -- The Red Sox are one victory away from winning their second World Series in 89 years. And the Rockies must now return from where no World Series team has returned before: from a 3-0 deficit to win it all, beginning with a victory Sunday night in Game 4 at Coors Field.

"OK, so it looks like we're in groundbreaking territory," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said after his club dropped a 10-5 decision on Saturday night that was closer than the final score indicated. "I mean, we need to go out and win Game 4. I don't think you need to overreact or underreact. You just show up, get ready to play and find a way to win Game 4."

Twenty-two times in the previous 102 World Series has a team roared off to a 3-0 bulge, and has won that series every time. Even worse for the Rockies, none of those series has gone further than five games, with 19 of them ending in the minimum: four games, over and out.

The Red Sox have to avoid being overconfident.

"You can't eat your cake before it's your birthday," left fielder Manny Ramirez said.

The Rockies have to play as if they're undaunted.

"Obviously, it's a tough task because no one has ever done it in the World Series," Rockies third baseman Garrett Atkins said. "You have to break it down as far as you can: from at-bat to at-bat and from inning to inning. At the end of the day we'll see where we are."

The Red Sox recently have been at both ends of the spectrum, once in the World Series, once in the American League Championship Series, both of them happening in 2004. First Boston came back from a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Yankees in the ALCS, the first and only time that's happened in a best-of-seven series in Major League Baseball history.

Then the Red Sox took a 3-0 lead over the Cardinals in that World Series and closed out the Redbirds the next night at St. Louis to win it all for the first time since 1918.

Asked if he had any advice for the Rockies about their untenable plight, Boston manager Terry Francona, a rookie in that spot in 2004, quipped:

"I don't know how to answer that. I really don't want them to win. I don't know what to say."

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Asked what he told the team when it began to regroup against the Yankees three years ago, Francona said:

"The same thing we'll tell our guys [Sunday]: 'Go out and play tomorrow's game.' That's what's in our best interest -- to play tomorrow's game and see how we do. That's what we always do, stay in the moment."

They've done well throughout this postseason, having won six games in a row after falling behind the Indians 3-1 in the ALCS. In the current series, they've outscored the Rockies 25-7. Adding the last three games against Cleveland, that run is currently at 55-12.

The Red Sox have excelled for the past nine days in every facet of the game, making a Rockies team that won 90 games during the regular season and the first seven games through the opening two rounds of the playoffs appear overmatched.

"Offensively, they've done a great job," Atkins said. "Like tonight, we come back from 6-0 to 6-5 and then they score a few more runs. Our mindset now is we've just got to go out there and try to win tomorrow. We'll do that and we'll worry about the next day and so forth. You can't think we've got to win four games tomorrow because that's impossible. If we can win tomorrow, then do it again on Monday and get back on that plane flight to Boston, anything can happen."

In Command at 3-0
Twenty-two teams have taken 3-0 leads in the World Series and all have gone on to claim the championship. Teams have completed four-game sweeps in 19 of the 22 occasions and in the last seven consecutive 3-0 scenarios ('76 Reds, '89 A's, '90 Reds, '98 and '99 Yankees, '04 Red Sox and '05 White Sox. The three teams that have avoided the sweep by winning Game 4, all ended up losing in five games.
1910CHC (NL)PHI (AL)CHC, 4-3 (10)PHI, 4-1
1937NYG (NL)NYY (AL)NYG, 7-3NYY, 4-1
1970CINBALCIN, 6-3BAL, 4-1

Possible, but unlikely.

In 1910, 1937 and 1970, the teams down 3-0 were able to win Game 4 only to lose the series in five. Thus, the 2004 Red Sox, in their stunning comeback against the Yankees, are also the only team in MLB history to ever make it to Game 6 after trailing 3-zip in an ALCS.

That kind of comeback takes grit, guts and guile. And eight players who were on that 2004 team are still with the current bunch, including mainstays Ramirez, David Ortiz and Jason Varitek.

Varitek, the team's catcher and captain, said there are things that the players say to each other to cope with big games.

"But the majority of it we handle in here," he said, referring to the clubhouse. "Outside of that, we've just got to continue to outplay our opponents."

Mike Lowell, who was a member of the 2003 Marlins that came back from a 2-1 deficit to defeat the Yankees in that six-game World Series, said his current team simply must continue to harvest its winning mindset.

"We have to maintain the same intensity," the veteran third baseman said. "You know, 3-0 doesn't mean anything if you can't win the fourth. I believe we'll go into the game on Sunday just like we did tonight, just like we did in the first two games at Boston. There's no reason to take it any different."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.