BOSTON — Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima stood on the Fenway Park mound, posing for pictures with Boston general manager Theo Epstein, a Japanese flag and the American League championship trophy.

BOSTON — Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima stood on the Fenway Park mound, posing for pictures with Boston general manager Theo Epstein, a Japanese flag and the American League championship trophy.

This is what these Red Sox rookies came halfway around the world for: the World Series.

Three years after ending its 86-year title drought, Boston completed another October comeback by overpowering the Cleveland Indians 11-2 Sunday night in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

Having rallied from a 3-1 deficit against Cleveland, the Red Sox now play the streaking Colorado Rockies starting Wednesday night in Boston.

"We've never been through this. This is on the biggest stage," said rookie second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who hit his first postseason homer and drove in five runs.

"We worked too hard all year long to have our season get cut short. Nobody wanted to go home, nobody wanted to say goodbye to everybody. So once we got that win in Cleveland, brought us back here, we started to believe."

Matsuzaka pitched five solid innings, and Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon each threw two scoreless innings in relief. Boston also got some help by a key blunder by an Indians base coach when Cleveland trailed just 3-2 with a chance to tie the game.

"We won three games in a row and they won three in a row," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "I'm disappointed, obviously, we weren't able to finish it off."

After digging out of a 3-0 hole against the Yankees in the '04 ALCS, the Red Sox needed three straight wins to advance this time. The Rockies, who have won 10 in a row and 21 of 22, will come back from a record eight days off.

"The Rockies are on a magical run and we are going to have our hands full. We're going to try and represent the American League the best we can," Epstein said. "We haven't grown up any since '04. That's part of what keeps these guys so good. It keeps us all loose and we never stop believing."

Colorado outscored Boston 20-5 in winning two of three during an interleague series at Fenway in June. The Red Sox did even better in winning the last three games against Indians, outscoring them 30-5 in that span.

While Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz and ALCS MVP Josh Beckett helped the Red Sox win their 12th pennant, the Indians only added more misery to a city that hasn't celebrated a World Series championship since 1948.

Cleveland was a double-play grounder from winning the crown at Florida in 1997. They appeared to take control of this series with three consecutive victories, but aces C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona couldn't win a single game between them.

Jake Westbrook settled down to offer a solid outing in Game 7, and still the Indians came up short. They had a chance to tie it at 3 in the seventh inning, but third-base coach Joel Skinner mistakenly held up speedy Kenny Lofton as he rounded the bag.

With runners at the corners, Casey Blake grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Then, the Red Sox blew it open. Pedroia, who homered earlier, hit a three-run double and Kevin Youkilis launched a bottle rocket, a two-run drive off the giant Coke bottle above the Green Monster.

Papelbon pitched two innings for the save, finishing things off when center fielder Coco Crisp raced back into the center-field triangle, crashing into the wall to catch Blake's drive.

Crisp was still on the ground when Papelbon chucked his glove into the air and then waited, crouching, for catcher Jason Varitek to leap into his arms.

The Red Sox poured out of the dugout for their first playoff clinching celebration at home since the first round in 2004.

"When things were not going well, we just took a deep breath. Young guys like Pedroia played a big part in this series," Boston manager Terry Francona said. "It's not over. We deserve a little bit tonight to celebrate. This is a special time and a special place, but it's not over."

Boston kept the bases busy early against Westbrook, but three double plays in the first four innings kept the Indians in the game while their starter settled down. The Red Sox scored once in each of the first three innings, and Matsuzaka retired the first eight batters he faced.

Cleveland cut the deficit to 3-2 through five, then had a chance to tie it in the seventh when Red Sox shortstop Julio Lugo dropped Lofton's seemingly harmless popup in shallow left. Lugo drifted back, tracking the ball with his glove in the air and holding off incoming left fielder Ramirez with his right hand.

But the shortstop let the ball bounce off his glove, and Lofton was safe on second.

Franklin Gutierrez hit a sharp grounder over third base that bounced off the photographer's box in front of the grandstand and into shallow left. But Skinner held up both hands for the speedy Lofton, and the 40-year-old outfielder skidded to a stop.

A star in big games throughout his career in Japan, Matsuzaka followed two sub-par playoff outings with his first American postseason victory. He allowed two runs on six hits in five innings, striking out three and walking none.

"I thought he pitched his heart out," Francona said. "Those were some tough innings. He gave us what we needed."

Fellow Japanese rookie Hideki Okajima pitched two innings of shutout ball. Papelbon closed, sending the sold-out Fenway into a frenzy.