-- A brilliant performance by Boston Red Sox starter Pedro Martinez in Game 3 of the World Series could have easily been negated had the St. Louis Cardinals run the bases properly.
In the first two games, the Cardinals failed to take advantage of eight errors. In a 4-1 Game 3 loss, St. Louis couldn't overcome its own mistakes. The Cardinals had one of the best pitchers of his generation rattled yet did not push any runs across against him. Instead, Martinez regained his composure and pitched seven scoreless innings.
The bases became loaded in the first inning when an erratic Martinez walked Scott Rolen. With one out, Jim Edmonds sent a shallow fly ball to Manny Ramirez in left field. Albert Pujols, on second base, began to run to third and was only a few feet from Larry Walker, who stood at third base. Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo yelled "halfway, halfway" to Walker, meaning there was no intent on tagging up. But with Pujols running toward him, Walker panicked.
"I didn't know what to do, I saw Albert run," Walker said. "I just took off to see if I had a shot at going home."
Ramirez caught Edmonds's fly ball and threw to catcher Jason Varitek, who applied the tag on Walker to end the inning. Martinez, perhaps celebrating a great escape, slapped his old Montreal Expos teammate Walker on the behind with his glove and ran gleefully into the dugout. Walker said he would not have tagged had Pujols held at second base.
The more exasperating blunder occurred in the third inning. Cardinals starter Jeff Suppan began the inning with an infield single. Edgar Renteria followed with a deep drive to right that sent Suppan to third base. Prior to Walker's at-bat, Oquendo reminded Suppan he was to run home on a ground ball.
The Red Sox, with a 1-0 lead, played the infield back, conceding the run. Walker sent a slow grounder to second baseman Mark Bellhorn, who routinely threw the ball to first base for the out. For some reason, Suppan ran halfway down the third base line and stopped.
"Basically I screwed up, period," Suppan said. "I didn't run. I really just screwed the play up. I don't really know how to describe it."
First baseman David Ortiz was slow to react, but eventually saw Suppan was caught. Ortiz threw to Bill Mueller, who applied the tag on Suppan for the second out. A rally that began with runners on second and third scored no runs for the Cardinals.
"I stepped to the plate trying to do what I did," Walker said. "I wanted to hit a ground ball to get a guy over and to get a guy in."
The friendly crowd at Busch Stadium, known for its kindness and support, booed Suppan loudly at the end of the inning. It was the end of the last rally by the Cardinals against Martinez, who retired the next 13 batters after that play, and perhaps the last gasp against the Red Sox.