BOSTON — At the end of the fourth inning Wednesday night, the Boston Police Department issued a statement reporting that the bars in the Kenmore Square area were filled and telling people without game tickets to leave the area.
The sense of anticipation wasn't lost on a community ready to celebrate the Red Sox's first World Series clinching at Fenway Park since 1918 and completely rid themselves of the pain of a last-place finish in the American League East in 2012.
The early celebration was understandable after the Red Sox pounced on rookie Michael Wacha for six runs in the first four innings and relied on the strong pitching of John Lackey to cruise to a 6-1 victory and top the St. Louis Cardinals four games to two in the best-of-seven series.
"There was definitely a madness, a vibe in the place that was pretty special," Lackey said after pitching 6 2/3 innings.
Lackey earned the distinction of winning a second World Series clincher, equaling his achievement as a rookie with the Angels in 2002.
"I'll appreciate it a lot more this time," Lackey said. "I was a rookie then and trying to help out and do my best. It was a long time to get back to this point. I'm definitely enjoying it and will appreciate it a lot more."
The Red Sox won their third World Series title in 10 seasons and first under Manager John Farrell.
This Red Sox team carved its niche with a massive makeover starting midway through 2012 that carried over to spring training with major contributions from newcomers Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes, all of whom played significant roles in knocking out Wacha, who had given up three runs in 29 playoff innings.
Victorino, who sat out Games 4 and 5 because of back stiffness, ripped a three-run double off the Green Monster in left field to end a scoreless tie in the third inning and singled to cap a three-run fourth.
Stephen Drew broke out of a four-for-51 postseason slump with a leadoff home run in the fourth.
"I'm really glad it happened," Drew said. "It was just a matter of time. With these 25 guys, this is what it's about. I couldn't have cared less if I had no hits and played good defense as long as we won this game."
Those collective contributions mirrored what Farrell detected as early as after the Boston Marathon bombing in April, when five groups of players went to hospitals to visit victims.
"It's hard for me to put sports over a tragedy like that," Lackey said. "Hopefully, people who were affected by it can forget about it for a few hours, at least."
In Game 6, the Red Sox didn't have to rely on slugger David Ortiz, who walked four times after an 11-for-15 performance in the first five games and was selected the Series' most valuable player.