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WS2013 Gm3: Peavy, Kelly face off with series tied

BOSTON -- The Cardinals won 21 of their last 26 regular-season games at Busch Stadium. They're 5-1 at home in the playoffs.

The 109th World Series will be decided between the foul lines. But the fact that the setting will be St. Louis for the next three games has to give the Cardinals a warm and fuzzy feeling after they evened the series at a game apiece with a 4-2 win in Game 2 on Thursday night at Fenway Park.

With that, the home-field advantage swings to the Cards. Location, location, location. St. Louis won 54 games at home during the regular season, second most in the Major Leagues.

"It's not that we do anything differently," catcher Yadier Molina said before the Cardinals staged a light workout Friday afternoon in preparation for Saturday's Game 3 (7:30 p.m. ET airtime on FOX, 8:07 p.m. first pitch). "But to play in front of your fans, that's the key, I think."

Right-hander Jake Peavy will start for the Red Sox against Cards right-hander Joe Kelly. And that matchup offers its fair share of intrigue.

Peavy is the veteran, 32 years old with over 300 starts on his resume, who was acquired from the White Sox to bolster Boston's rotation at the non-waiver Trade Deadline. While he's not the same pitcher who twice won the National League ERA title for the Padres and the NL Cy Young Award in 2007, he has the edge in experience.

Peavy has not, however, had overwhelming success in the postseason. While he held the Rays to one run in 5 2/3 innings in the American League Division Series, overall, he's 0-3 with a 10.31 ERA in four career postseason starts.

"There are absolutely no excuses [Saturday] night," Peavy said. "This is what I lived my whole life for. I'm as prepared as I'll ever be, physically and mentally."

Kelly, 25, is part of the Cardinals' arsenal of young arms. He's in only his second year in the big leagues, but he made seven relief appearances in the 2012 playoffs and three starts this year. One interesting thing about Kelly's Game 3 start is that it will be the first time he's pitched since Oct. 16.

"There's been more than once that I can remember that I've had a very long layoff and I came out and still did my job," Kelly said. "It's something that I don't think about. It's something that people bring to my attention. It's not like I'm going, 'Wow, I haven't toed the rubber in a while, I feel kind of rusty.'"

Case in point: When Kelly started against the Braves on July 27, he hadn't pitched in more than two weeks. But he threw 6 1/3 shutout innings.

Red Sox manager John Farrell noted that this will be Kelly's first career start against Boston.

"The one thing that [St. Louis rookie Michael] Wacha had going in his favor [in Game 2], in addition to being a very talented young guy, is familiarity," Farrell said. "This will be the first time that we'll face Kelly. We've got a little bit of a read on him through our advance scouting reports, but still, first-hand experience in the batter's box goes a long way. That presents a unique challenge."

Kelly, too, said the Cardinals have the edge at Busch Stadium because they feed off the excitement of their fans.

"The main difference is the crowd, the fans," Kelly said. "In the postseason, every strike is huge. Every out is huge. Every hit we get is big, even if we don't score."

Molina has 22 career at-bats against Peavy and is the catcher for Kelly. He was asked to compare and contrast the two pitchers.

"I haven't faced Peavy in many years," Molina said. "He was nasty then. When I was younger, he was one of the pitchers I admired most. He really knew how to pitch. Kelly, like I've said many times, our young guys aren't scared. They're going to go after people. Kelly has the power sinker with the big curveball. If he makes his pitches, we're going to be fine."

Another reason why the Cards will be happy to be home is that, playing under NL rules, Boston will be without a designated hitter. Farrell said Friday that David Ortiz will move from DH to first base and Mike Napoli will take a seat on the bench.

Still, the Red Sox believe they're up to the challenge.

"I think we're all right," said left fielder Jonny Gomes. "I like where we're at. We're going to St. Louis, and unless there are three crazy games, we're going to come back [to Boston] and rock and roll for our fans.

"We have a nice hostile environment here ourselves. They've got a lot of championship flags hanging over that scoreboard. It says a lot about the history of their organization. It's an organization that's won a bunch in the past and has won recently. They're right up with our fans as far as being educated. They say it's going to be a sea of red over there, but we've got some vets here, and I think we can handle it."

Shane Victorino -- who spent most of his career with the Phillies and the last two months of 2012 with the Dodgers before signing with the Red Sox as a free agent last offseason -- has more than 100 career at-bats in St. Louis, and he said there's no reason for his teammates to fear Busch Stadium.

"It's not a difficult place to play," Victorino said. "It's a fun atmosphere. You've just got to go in there with a positive attitude. I'm not worried about going there. It's a great stadium, great atmosphere, great fans. You've just got to go and do what you can. I don't pay attention to [their record there]. I don't care what they are. I'm going in there with that attitude. [I'm not] going in there with any disrespect, but I can't go in there with that mindset.

"Obviously, we know what kind of team they are. We know it's going to be hard-fought games and you have to minimize mistakes. But we went into Detroit [during the AL Championship Series] and played well there. Again, it's a tough task, but that's what I look at." Comments