BOSTON - This city was poised to celebrate here like it hadn't since 1918 and the Red Sox didn't disappoint.
The celebration, in fact, kicked off early.
Bludgeoning the previously dominant Michael Wacha almost from the start, the Red Sox won their third World Series crown in 10 years with a 6-1 victory over the Cardinals Wednesday night in front of 38,447 at Fenway Park.
It was the first title clinched in the historic ballpark since 1918, and completed a remarkable turnaround from last season's 69-win campaign that never seemed more distant.
"People call this the cathedral of baseball, and I absolutely one hundred percent agree, this place is a special place to play," Boston's Shane Victorino said before the game.
The veteran outfielder, in his first season with the Red Sox, was a big reason fans inside the ballpark -- not to mention on nearby Yawkey Way and Lansdowne Street -- could start celebrating before game's end.
Victorino, whose grand slam led the Red Sox to victory in Game 6 of the ALCS, hit a bases-clearing double with two outs in the third off Wacha, who came in 4-0 with a 1.00 ERA this postseason, to make it 3-0.
The double brought in David Ortiz, intentionally walked earlier in the inning, and whom Cardinals manager Mike Matheny finally grew tired of pitching to. Ortiz, who went 0-1 with four walks -- three intentional -- was awarded series MVP honors. He went 11-for-16 with a .750 OBP.
A few timely hits in the first few innings against John Lackey, who allowed one run and nine hits over 6 2/3 innings, might have made things different.
Allen Craig and Yadier Molina led off the second inning with singles, but Lackey, 3-1, with a 3.26 ERA this postseason coming into the game., retired the next three batters in order. Matt Carpenter singled with one out in the third but was erased when Carlos Beltran grounded into a 6-3 double play. Through four innings the Cardinals were 0-for-5 with RISP and had stranded four.
The Red Sox came away frustrated in the second when they put two on with two outs and didn't score, but they did not fail in the third.
Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a single and, after Dustin Pedroia grounded out - putting Ellsbury on second - Matheny called for an intentional walk to Ortiz. Wacha struck out Mike Napoli but hit Gomes with a pitch. It proved costly.
Victorino got ahead 2-and-0 before driving a 93-mph fastball off the wall in left-center for a double that made it 3-0.
From there it was a steady march toward a party sure to last into the morning and beyond.
Stephen Drew, 4-for-50 this postseason coming in, homered in the fourth to make it 4-0, and the game entered laugher status shortly thereafter. After Lance Lynn replaced Wacha, Napoli greeted him with an RBI single to center that made it 5-0. Victorino, naturally, singled to make it 6-0.
Lackey, who allowed one run and nine hits over 6 2/3 innings, managed to keep himself in the game in the seventh. He retired the first two batters before Daniel Descalso singled, Matt Carpenter doubled and Carlos Beltran singled to bring in Descalso for the Cardinals first run. Farrell came out to talk to Lackey, who appeared to convince his manager to allow him to face Holliday. Lackey walked the left fielder to load the bases and gave way to Junichi Tazawa, doffing his cap to a boisterous ovation. Tazawa retired Allen Craig to end the inning and, for the most part, the Cardinals' last chance.