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Red Sox take control with another fast start
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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Another big start put Boston on the brink of a surprising sweep.

Manny Ramirez�s home run gave the Red Sox a first-inning lead for the third straight game, and Boston beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-1 on Tuesday night to take a 3-0 lead in the World Series.

�We�re trying to go have fun,� Ramirez said. �We keep it so relaxed out there.�

The Red Sox have never trailed in the Series and they�ve won seven consecutive postseason games overall, a feat matched only by the 1976 Cincinnati Reds, the 1995 Atlanta Braves and the 1998 New York Yankees.

One thing that got the Red Sox rolling was scoring early.  They�ve taken a first-inning lead in their last four games, and five of the past six. They�ve scored first six times in a row.

This was the third time in four games that Boston homered in the first inning. David Ortiz connected in Game 7 of the AL championship series at Yankee Stadium, then in the World Series opener at Fenway Park.

�Our team is a very good hitting ballclub. That�s one thing we know we could do was hit. It doesn�t matter if it�s a starter or a reliever,� Johnny Damon said.

Boston is the first team in World Series history to have a lead after the first inning in each of the first three games. The only other clubs to score in the first inning of the first three games were the 1932 Chicago Cubs and the 1997 Cleveland Indians.

Those teams wound up losing the World Series. But here�s a stat Boston fans are sure to love: The only other clubs that did not trail at any point in the first three games were the 1963 Los Angeles Dodgers, the 1966 Baltimore Orioles, the �76 Reds and the 1989 Oakland Athletics.

All four of those teams finished off four-game sweeps.

A HOLE IN THE MIDDLE: Jim Edmonds and St. Louis� sluggers carried the Cardinals to 105 wins during the regular season.  They�re coming up empty in the World Series.

Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen, Edmonds and Reggie Sanders were a combined 1-for-13 on Tuesday night. The Cardinals are down three games to none, and the middle of their powerful lineup is a big reason.

�I think we can do a better job of hitting, but I think you�ve got to give them credit,� manager Tony La Russa said. �They�ve made good pitches in key situations over and over again.�

Rolen is 0-for-11 in his first World Series with one RBI.  Edmonds is 1-for-11, and Sanders is hitless in nine at-bats. Pujols has four hits, but hasn�t driven in a run.

�As long as the game has been played, if the pitcher mixes things up and keeps the ball in the middle, I don�t care how good the hitters are, they have a hard time adjusting,� La Russa said.

FUNNY MAN: Kevin Millar was the odd man out of Boston�s starting lineup in Game 3 against the Cardinals.

With no designated hitter allowed in the National League ballpark, David Ortiz played first base so the Red Sox could keep his powerful bat in the lineup. That left Millar on the bench, where the colorful slugger was bound to keep his teammates laughing all night long.

�He�s such a smart aleck,� manager Terry Francona said.  ï¿½He�ll have a bag of snacks, I mean the couple of games in interleague this summer when he didn�t play�Atlanta, he looked like, remember �Leave it to Beaver?� He looked like Larry Mondello. I thought about putting him in, but he had a stomach ache.�

The Red Sox hardly missed Millar�s bat, but they love the entertainment he provides.

�When he doesn�t play, he said things that made me laugh when I didn�t want to laugh,� Francona said. �You�ll hear that voice down at the end of the dugout and it�s hard not to laugh. He�s a character. He�s good for our ballclub.�

Millar grounded out as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning.

PAINT THE TOWN RED: Here�s one World Series stunt that didn�t last long.

A Boston fan who lives in St. Louis visited Busch Stadium on Monday and placed red socks on the statues of Cardinals greats outside the ballpark.

Just minutes later, Robert Kennedy, a St. Louis fan from Cahokia, Ill., happened to be passing by. He immediately removed the socks, using them to polish up the statues before he tossed them in the trash can.

�It�s all in good fun,� Kennedy said.

Speaking of Cardinals greats, Stan Musial and Bob Gibson threw

out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 3.

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