If there's a team that shouldn't take a 2-0 lead in the World Series for granted, it's the Boston Red Sox.
For one thing, the last time the Red Sox made a Series appearance (1986), they also sprinted to a 2-0 lead -- on the road, no less -- and still lost. For another, it was only a week ago that the Red Sox themselves trailed the New York Yankees in the ALCS by an even wider margin -- and still won.
"So far," said reliever Alan Embree, who pitched a perfect seventh inning Sunday, striking out the side, "we've been able to carry [the emotion from the ALCS] over to this series. Hopefully, we'll keep it going. We feed off the positive energy. We're not going to fall into a trap after winning the first two. You saw what happened to the Yankees. [The Cardinals] have a great ballclub over in that clubhouse, one that is just like ours."
"We can't relax," outfielder Manny Ramirez said. "They're too good a club. They have a lot of history in the World Series, and we have to keep playing hard until the final out."
The wonder is that the Red Sox are leading at all. In each of the first two games of the Series, the Sox have committed four errors. They left nine baserunners on in Game 2, after stranding another nine in the first game.
By most statistical measures, they should be trailing -- not winning -- the series.
"We made some errors," Terry Francona acknowledged, "but I didn't actually think we played a sloppy game. [But] our pitchers made pitches, where [the miscues] didn't affect the outcome of the game."
The Sox made up for their defensive lapses with some clutch hitting in Game 2; they scored all six runs with two outs.
"When teams get them against you, it's damaging," Francona said. "When you do it, it's awesome."
After Monday's off-day, the Red Sox will send Pedro Martinez out to try to take a 3-0 lead Tuesday. It will be the first World Series start in his career for Martinez, who beat Anaheim in the Division Series before going winless in two starts in the ALCS against the Yankees.
"Any time we start Pedro," Francona said, "believe me -- we're excited about it."
Switching venues to the National League site -- and rules -- the Sox will be without the designated hitter, necessitating the benching of first baseman Kevin Millar as DH David Ortiz takes over at first for three games.
Ortiz played in the field just a handful of times over the second half of the season, but the Sox can't do without his bat, which has produced 19 postseason RBI to date.
"We're used to playing without it," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "Whatever it does for them, we'll see. They're going to lose one good hitter."
Returning home, the Cardinals need to get better starting pitching. Over the first two games, St. Louis' starting pitching allowed 11 runs and 12 hits in just 6 2/3 innings.
Jeff Suppan, who was drafted and developed by the Red Sox, then reacquired by them at the trading deadline in 2003, will pitch Game 3 for the Cards.
St. Louis has yet to lose at Busch Stadium this postseason, and returning to a more friendly environment will be a positive.
"We love playing at home," La Russa said. "Our fans are going to be crazy, and look to give us a boost. But we're disappointed we didn't get a game [in Boston]."
"What 0-2 means," catcher Mike Matheny said, "is that we get another chance to play again. We get to go home to a place we feel comfortable and a place we played well all year."
The Cards could use more production from the middle of their batting order. Through the first two games, the threesome of Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds has combined for six hits, but just one RBI.
"We put ourselves in a tough situation," reliever Cal Eldred said, "but hanging our heads is not what this team is all about. You have to continue to work at it. If we continue to put ourselves in situations to score, we'll be all right."
Still, it's the Red Sox, who, as they go on the road, are halfway home.
Sean McAdam of the Providence (R.I.) Journal covers baseball for ESPN.com.