Youkilis' walk-off HR in 13th helps Red Sox avoid home sweep

BOSTON (AP) -- What the Boston Red Sox couldn't get done with doubles they did with the long ball.

After leading off the 10th, 11th and 12th innings with doubles and failing to score, Kevin Youkilis hit a two-run home run off of Mike Parisi in the bottom of the 13th inning to lift the Boston Red Sox to a 5-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday.

"I knew I hit it really well and I thought it would get out but you never know here sometimes," Youkilis said. "You can't beat it. I think it was even more exciting when you have a 13-inning game. You just want to get out of here. That always makes it a lot better of a home run."

Mike Lowell led off the inning with a single off Parisi (0-3) before Youkilis hit Parisi's 3-1 offering over the left-field wall. It was Youkilis's second homer of the game.

"When you get in one of those games -- at least when you're playing at home -- you always feel like you have the last at-bat," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "We led three innings off with doubles, start the runner on second [and] couldn't score. Maybe that's what it takes is somebody running the ball out of the ballpark."

The Red Sox avoided being swept in a series at home for the first time since losing two contests to the Blue Jays last April.

The Cardinals had a chance to take the lead in the top of the 13th off Javier Lopez (2-0), but Chris Duncan was thrown out at home plate by Red Sox right fielder J.D. Drew trying to score on Adam Kennedy's base hit.

"He hit the ball hard enough to be able field it on a nice run," Drew said. "I was surprised to see him going and it wound up that it was a nice hop to Tek [catcher Jason Varitek] and he had time to duck under."

The Red Sox had opportunities in the 10th and 11th innings to win the game, but came up empty on both occasions. In the 10th, with Jacoby Ellsbury on third and one out, Kyle McClellan struck out Drew and got Sean Casey to pop out. In the 11th, the Red Sox loaded the bases with one out against Jason Isringhausen, who struck out Alex Cora and Ellsbury to retire the side.

The Cardinals also had chances in the extra frames, loading the bases with three hits off Hideki Okajima in the 11th. But Craig Hansen struck out Ryan Ludwick to end the threat.

"Just a hellacious game. It's one of those things that makes you enjoy this level of competition," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "Both clubs had chances for a lot of heroics to get something going. A lot of heroics to stop them. What a great competition."

After the Red Sox scored twice in the eighth to take a 3-2 lead, the Cardinals tied the game in the ninth off Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, who blew his fourth save opportunity of the season. After striking out the first two Cardinals he faced, Duncan drew a walk and Adam Kennedy doubled to center to tie the game at 3.

Aaron Miles went 5-for-6 for the Cardinals and was 7-for-11 in the series with his only homer of the season. Despite the loss, the Cardinals won their sixth consecutive road series.

"It seemed like there was a rally every inning and no one could push that run across," Miles said. "Both teams thought they were going to showering in five minutes a bunch of times tonight, but it didn't happen."

Joel Pineiro, who hasn't won since April 29, gave up two runs and seven hits over seven-plus innings. In his last three starts, Pineiro has allowed only five earned runs over 19 innings.

Lester was nearly as good as Pineiro, allowing nine hits over 7 1/3 innings. It was his 11th straight start in which he has held his opponent to three earned runs or fewer.

Nick Stavinoha, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Memphis prior to the game, made his major league debut and picked up his first hit, a single in the sixth inning.

Game notes
The Red Sox haven't been swept in a series of three games or more at Fenway Park since Aug. 18-21, 2006, when they lost five straight to the Yankees. .. Cardinals shortstop Cesar Izturis was placed on the 15-day disabled list prior to the game due to a strained right hamstring. Stavinova took his place on the roster, and to make room on the 40-man roster, the Cardinals moved former NL Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list. Carpenter is recovering from right elbow surgery. ... Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek is in an 0-for-24 slump and is 3 for his last 40. ... Red Sox outfielder Manny Ramirez has one RBI in his last nine games.