BOSTON (AP) — When the Boston Red Sox needed to close out the World Series, they turned to Koji Uehara.
The 38-year-old right-hander pitched a perfect ninth inning to finish off a 6-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6 on Wednesday night and secure Boston's third championship in 10 years.
After earning the Most Valuable Player award in the AL championship series against the Tigers with three saves and a victory, Uehara was just as good in the Series. He gave up zero runs and two hits in 4 2-3 innings in five appearances, but he was upstaged by slugger David Ortiz and his .688 batting average for the Series MVP.
Uehara didn't start the season as the team's closer. He was signed as a reliable reliever before Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey were injured.
The Red Sox were forced to promote him to closer in late June, and he saved 21 of 24 opportunities in the regular season with a 1.09 ERA.
"Koji Uehara (was) the fourth closer we had to turn to because of injury to Joel Hanrahan and Bailey," manager John Farrell said after the game. "I don't know that you start the year or you end the year when you finish with the same roster. That rarely happens. But fortunately the depth of this roster played out time and time again. And that was no different than how we finished out October."
Since giving up a game-ending homer to Tampa Bay's Jose Lobaton in Game 3 of the division series, Uehara did not allow a run.
In the Series, he pitched a perfect ninth inning in Game 2 and got one out in Game 3. He pitched the ninth in Boston's Game 4 win — getting the final out on a pickoff at first base — and got four straight outs to finish off Game 5 and earn another save.
He retired the last three Cardinals batters on Wednesday before jumping into catcher David Ross' arms to celebrate and pointing his finger in the air.