ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals right fielder Carlos Beltran has been on both sides. In Game 3 of the World Series at Busch Stadium, he was on the team that pulled off a stunning win. Beltran has also been in the losing clubhouse wondering what happened.
Even after a celebrated 16-year career, though, Beltran isn't sure whether Saturday night's stunning ending, in which the winning run scored on an obstruction call on Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks, will impact Game 4 on Sunday night (8 p.m. ET airtime on FOX, 8:15 p.m. first pitch).
Carryover for the Cards? Hangover for the Sox? The veteran shrugged.
"Of course we'll come in a little excited and ready to go out there," Beltran said. "But at the same time, they want to come out with the same mentality. I don't think it's hard for teams like Boston and teams like us to bounce back. Like the first game of the series, we played horrible and we bounced back the second game. They're pretty good at turning the page and moving on."
Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, whose wide throw to third resulted in Middlebrooks being on the ground in the first place, insisted that this loss, as difficult as it was, won't linger.
"Obviously, we're mad right now, Saltalamacchia said. "But you have to have that ability to walk out of the clubhouse and forget about it. You go home. You have a family. It's a lesson. It's a lesson you go through. But I think we'll be all right. That's the way it goes, man. That's part of the game. Nothing is going to be handed to us."
Now trailing 2-1 in the best-of-seven series, Boston needs to win Game 4 to avoid being pushed to the brink of elimination. Further complicating the task is the fact that starter Clay Buchholz isn't likely to pitch deep into the game. He missed almost three months of the regular season with shoulder problems before returning in September, and he has admitted that he's been pitching with tightness in the shoulder during the postseason.
Buchholz has made three starts in the playoffs without a decision, and he has a 5.40 ERA. More significantly, his longest outing has been just six innings. And Red Sox manager John Farrell admitted it's probably unrealistic to expect Buchholz to go any further this time out.
"We go in thinking he's going to give us what he's been in the postseason," Farrell said. "That might be a little bit shorter of an outing than we saw back in April and May."
That issue came more sharply into focus when starter Jake Peavy lasted just four innings in Game 3 on Saturday night, forcing Farrell to go to his bullpen early. Before it was all over, he had used five relievers.
Buchholz said he wouldn't hold back to try to keep himself in the game longer.
"Every time I pitch, the last thing on my mind is to preserve anything," he said. "The one thing I have is to go out and compete: Go out there for as long as [Farrell] wants to leave me out there and give the team a chance to win to the best of my ability. I'm not 100 percent, [but] it's going to be my first World Series experience, being on the field. And I think that just the environment, the crowd, the adrenaline, that's going to help me out."
By contrast, Cardinals starter Lance Lynn will be making his 20th postseason appearance, and fifth start, even though he's only 26 years old and in just his third Major League season. He finished the regular season strong, posting a 1.09 ERA in his last four starts. But Lynn has had mixed success so far in the playoffs. Against the Pirates in the National League Division Series, he gave up five runs in 4 1/3 innings; he bounced back in the NL Championship Series, holding the Dodgers to two runs in 7 1/3 innings.
Coincidentally, St. Louis manager Mike Matheny talked about momentum during his media availability on Friday, referring to the way his team took advantage of Boston's mistakes in Game 2.
"I believe in it," Matheny said. "I believe in the fact that we can try and ride a positive of coming back in a game like that."
Most baseball people disagree with that, saying that momentum depends on the next game's starting pitcher. But there is some anecdotal evidence that Matheny may be right. After the Steve Bartman incident in 2003, the Cubs still had a chance to win Game 7 and advance to the World Series. But they lost, even though they had Kerry Wood on the mound against the Marlins.
Another example: Even though umpire Don Denkinger's missed call at first may have cost St. Louis Game 6 of the 1985 Fall Classic, the Cards still had a chance to take the World Series championship by winning Game 7. Instead, they lost to the Royals, 11-0.
David Ortiz, the Red Sox's longest-tenured player, sat on a couch in the middle of the clubhouse afterward on Saturday night, staring at the ceiling.
"I don't think you finish a World Series game like that," Ortiz sighed, a sentiment that echoed around the Boston clubhouse.
Even without such an unusual ending, the Red Sox would be facing a challenge. The team that wins Game 3 of a World Series that starts 1-1 has gone on to win it all 67.3 percent of the time, including 11 of the last 12 times that situation has occurred.
The Red Sox twice rallied from two runs down in Game 3 to tie the score. And they insist they're confident they can bounce back one more time Sunday night.
"It happens. You can't go back," said left fielder Daniel Nava. "You have to focus on tomorrow. The makeup of this team is that we're going to forget about this one and go get them [Sunday]. There's nothing you can do. We've been in rough spots before, [with] calls that haven't gone our way."
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.