Lester, Red Sox rout sloppy Cards

BOSTON — Given a bit of help by the umpires and a lot more by the Cardinals, the Boston Red Sox turned this World Series opener into a laugher.

Mike Napoli hit a three-run double right after the umps reversed a blown call, Jon Lester made an early lead stand up and the Red Sox romped past sloppy St. Louis 8-1 Wednesday night for their ninth straight Series win.

A season before Major League Baseball is expected to expand instant replay, fans got to see a preview. The entire six-man crew huddled in the first inning and flipped a ruling on a forceout at second base — without looking at any video.

“I think based on their group conversation, surprisingly, to a certain extent, they overturned it and I think got the call right,” Boston manager John Farrell said.

Most everything went right for the Red Sox.

David Ortiz was robbed of a grand slam by Carlos Beltran — a catch that sent the star right fielder to a hospital with bruised ribs — but Big Papi later hit a two-run homer following third baseman David Freese’s bad throw.

The Red Sox also capitalized on two errors by shortstop Pete Kozma to extend a Series winning streak that began when they swept St. Louis in 2004. Boston never trailed at any point in those four games and, thanks to this hideous display by the Cardinals, coasted on a rollicking night at Fenway Park.

It got so bad for St. Louis that the sellout crowd literally laughed when pitcher Adam Wainwright and catcher Yadier Molina, who’ve combined to win six Gold Gloves, let an easy popup drop untouched between them.

Serious-minded St. Louis manager Mike Matheny didn’t find anything funny, especially when the umpires gathered in the first and changed a call by Dana DeMuth at second base.

“Basically, the explanation is that’s not a play I’ve ever seen before. And I’m pretty sure there were six umpires on the field that had never seen that play before, either,” Matheny said.

“It’s a pretty tough time to debut that overruled call in the World Series. Now, I get that trying to get the right call, I get that. Tough one to swallow,” he said.

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