Ortiz, Varitek, Renteria homer

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- An impeccable outing by David Wells rescued the Boston Red Sox from getting swept by the team they beat in four straight in the World Series.

Wells threw eight innings of four-hit ball and the Red Sox got big hits from David Ortiz and Jason Varitek in a 4-0 rain-delayed victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night.

"I don't think I made a bad pitch," Wells said. "It's just something that's a rarity. When you feel that good, you just go with it."

The Red Sox lost the first two games of the three-game series by a combined score of 16-3.

"I feel really good about the way we played," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "But you get in a position to win three, we're disappointed we didn't get the third one."

Wells (4-4) needed only 94 pitches, throwing first-pitch strikes to 23 of 28 batters, and went to only one three-ball count to beat Chris Carpenter (8-4). Ortiz hit his 14th homer and Varitek, who was 6-for-10 in the series with four of Boston's seven RBI, had a two-run double in the sixth.

"The first two games weren't too great, they weren't pretty at all," Wells said. "We at least get out of here with a W, and that's pretty gratifying. That's something we can build on."

Edgar Renteria was 2-for-13, hit into four double plays and a made an error in his first games in St. Louis since signing a free-agent deal with the Red Sox but ended his frustration with a homer off Ray King in the ninth.

The game lacked the testy nature that spiced the second game of the series, when five batters were hit by pitches in the last four innings and two pitchers plus both managers were ejected. In the finale, the only player hit was David Eckstein of the Cardinals, who was nipped on the elbow in the sixth.

La Russa didn't want to discuss that, though.

"What else is there to talk about?" he snapped.

Wells wasn't bothered by a delay of nearly three hours before the game began, beating the Cardinals for the fourth time in five career decisions and raising his interleague record to 14-6. Most of a sellout crowd of 46,928, the Cardinals' sixth straight, stuck
around for the game.

So Taguchi had two singles for the Cardinals, who lost for only the third time in their last 19 interleague games dating to 2003. They're 4-2 this year.

Only two Cardinals made it to second base against Wells -- Jim Edmonds on a double off the left field wall in the fifth and Taguchi in the eighth after singling and advancing on a groundout. Wells had entered the game 2-3 with a 7.52 ERA in his first six road starts.

Six straight Red Sox batters reached safely with one out in the sixth, starting with Ortiz's 14th homer. Kevin Millar and Trot Nixon followed with singles and both scored on Varitek's double to the gap in left-center.

Carpenter walked his first two batters of the game, Bill Mueller
and Mark Bellhorn, but struck out Wells and got Johnny Damon on a groundout to first to end the inning. In six innings, Carpenter gave up three runs on eight hits with eight strikeouts.

"Obviously, the Ortiz ball wasn't a very good pitch. I left a changeup up," Carpenter said. "I felt like I threw the ball pretty well, I just didn't have enough to put them down that one inning."

Keith Foulke worked the ninth for the Red Sox, who won for only the third time in their last 10 road games. Boston is 15-18 on the road.

Game notes
All but two of Ortiz's 14 homers have come off right-handed pitchers. ... Taguchi singled at the end of an 11-pitch at-bat leading off the third for the Cardinals, fouling off six straight two-strike pitches before lofting a single to center. ... The Red Sox hit into eight double plays in the series, the Cardinals two, both coming in the finale. ... Boston got its first shutout since Sept. 11 against the Mariners. ... Eckstein was 0-for-3, ending a 10-game hitting streak.