BOSTON -- In a season that has defied logic, the exclamation point came out of nowhere.
Shane Victorino carried an October slump into the batter's box in the seventh inning of Game 6 in the American League Championship Series on Saturday night. Victorino had two hits in his previous 23 at-bats as he dug in with the bases loaded the Red Sox trailing the Tigers by one run.
Victorino took a strike from Jose Veras before fouling a pitch off. The next pitch was a breaking ball that Victorino sent high into the night, landing in the Monster seats above the left field wall.
Victorino pumped his fist in the air as he rounded the bases and the Red Sox celebrated at home plate. The grand slam propelled the Red Sox to a 5-2 victory, sending them the World Series for the first time since 2007 and the third time in 10 seasons.
The Red Sox will face the Cardinals in the World Series, with Game 1 on Wednesday night at Fenway Park. Boston and St. Louis have been World Series foes in 2004, 1967 and 1946.
And the victory that sent them to baseball's biggest stage was emblematic of their entire season -- the Red Sox simply hung around long enough and figured out a way to win in the late innings.
"We can't change now," outfielder Jonny Gomes said. "That's how we got here."
A year ago, the notion that the Red Sox would be playing for a title in 2013 was laughable.
But the revamped Red Sox went from last place to first place in the American League East title this season and have continued their march through the postseason.
Under first-year manager John Farrell -- who replaced the fired Bobby Valentine -- the Red Sox have experienced an unforgettable turnaround.
"(Farrell) gives us a lot of confidence," David Ortiz said.
The Red Sox were up 3-2 in the series against the Tigers as it shifted back to Boston, but Detroit had Cy Young Award favorite Max Scherzer starting Saturday and 2011 Cy Young winner Justin Verlander looming for a potential Game 7 start Sunday.
Scherzer was stifling Boston as the game moving into the late innings. The Tigers took a 2-1 lead as they chased Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz in the sixth and Boston squandered an opportunity in the bottom of the inning, as Scherzer retired Mike Napoli and Jarrod Saltalamacchia with two runners in scoring position.
But the tide turned in the seventh. Gomes led with a double before Stephen Drew -- who made a run-saving diving play at shortstop in the top of the inning -- struck out. Rookie Xander Bogaerts, 21, fell behind 1-and-2 before working a walk.
Bogaerts also had a double and scored Boston's first run on a single by Jacoby Ellsbury in the fifth. He walked twice in the game and saw 18 pitches in three plate appearances.
"He's beyond his years," Farrell said. "He's got a bright, bright future."
Ellsbury hit a grounder up the middle that Detroit's dynamic rookie shortstop Jose Iglesias misplayed for an error. Iglesias, traded by the Red Sox during the season, has been sure-handed all season.
With the bases loaded, Victorino was facing Veras. Victorino had grounded out, bunted into an out and was hit by a pitch before the seventh inning. He fell into an 0-and-2 hole before igniting the Fenway Park crowd with his second career postseason grand slam.
He joined Jim Thome as the only players in baseball history with multiple postseason grand slams. Victorino's other came for the Phillies in the 2008 NLDS.
Victorino celebrated as he rounded the bases and almost apologized for his show of emotion.
"A special moment for me and the city," Victorino said. "No disrespect to (the Tigers)."
The Red Sox got scoreless relief from Brandon Workman, Junichi Tazawa, Craig Breslow and closer Koji Uehara to complete the victory. Uehara was named series MVP after earning three saves and a win while striking out nine in six innings.
Asked if he felt pressure throughout the series, Uehara said he did.
"To be honest with you, I almost threw up," Uehara said from the stage on the field after he was awarded the MVP award.
Buchholz and Scherzer were locked in a duel in the early innings. Ellsbury's RBI single gave Boston the lead, but Detroit took the lead in the sixth. Torii Hunter led with a walk and Miguel Cabrera, who had struck out in his two previous at-bats, singled.
Franklin Morales replaced Buchholz and proceeded to walk Prince Fielder on four pitches. Fielder was 4-for-21 before the at-bat. Next up, Victor Martinez sent a 2-and-1 pitch off The Wall to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead. Morales was lifted, walking off the mound to a chorus of boos.
With runners on first and third, Workman got Jhonny Peralta to hit a grounder to second. Pedroia alertly tagged Martinez and threw home. Fielder was caught midway between third and home, eventually tagged by catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia as he attempted to dive back to third.
Peralta wound up second, but pinch-runner Don Kelly was stranded when Workman struck out Alex Avila to end the inning.
The bullpen shut down the Tigers and the Red Sox mounted another late-inning comeback. Breslow, who grew up in Trumbull and attended Yale, saw it as a signature win.
"Isn't it so fitting?" Breslow said. "This is the way our season has gone. The guys have had that never-say-die attitude. They're willing to do whatever it takes to win. It's truly a case of every guy passing it to the next."
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