A three-run homer by unexpected starter Jonny Gomes lifted the Boston Red Sox to a 4-2 victory over the St Louis Cardinals on Sunday that tied the best-of-seven World Series 2-2.
Gomes, inserted into the lineup just before Game 4 when outfielder Shane Victorino was scratched due to tightness in his back, welcomed reliever Seth Maness with a drive over the fence in left-center with two men aboard in the sixth inning to snap a 1-1 tie.
“I just wanted an opportunity,” said Gomes, who had been none-for-eight at the plate over the first three games. “I take a lot of pride in my at-bats.”
The victory ensured the Fall Classic would return to Boston following yesterday’s Game 5 in St Louis, Missouri.
Felix Doubront, who came on in relief of Boston starter Clay Buchholz in the fifth inning, registered the win, while St Louis starter Lance Lynn took the loss as he left a 1-1 game after a two-out single and walk before the Gomes home run.
St Louis failed to take advantage of a slew of opportunities, stranding two men in the second, fourth and seventh innings, and failing to cash in with a runner on third and one out in the eighth.
“We didn’t get a lot going and didn’t have any momentum offensively,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.
The Cardinals still had life in the ninth after Allen Craig banged a one-out single to right off closer Koji Uehara.
Rookie Kolten Wong pinch-ran for Craig, but one out later Uehara wheeled and fired to first base to pick off Wong for a surprise end to the game.
The Cardinals had clawed back a run in the seventh on a two-out, pinch-hit double to left-center by Shane Robinson and a single to right by Matt Carpenter off reliever Craig Breslow that brought them within 4-2.
After Breslow walked Carlos Beltran to give the Cards men on first and second, Junichi Tazawa replaced lefty Breslow and got Matt Holliday to ground out sharply to second to end the inning.
Buchholz, who has been complaining of tightness in his right shoulder, worked gamely through four innings, giving up one unearned run on three hits and three walks, before giving way to a pinch-hitter in the fifth inning after only 66 pitches.
“He gave us everything he could,” said Boston manager John Farrell, saluting Buchholz’s effort.
Doubront was the first of five relievers used, including starting pitcher John Lackey, with Uehara nailing down the save.
The critical sixth inning started with Jacoby Ellsbury popping out to short and Daniel Nava grounding out to third.
Lynn then gave up a single to Dustin Pedroia and walked the dangerous David Ortiz. He was removed in favor of Maness, who left a pitch up to Gomes and was punished for the mistake with a three-run blast.
Gomes said “Big Papi” Ortiz, an emotional leader of the team, called an impromptu meeting in the dugout after the fifth inning and fired up the team.
“David Ortiz rallied us together,” Gomes said. “As far as the message, I think we’ll keep that in house, but I think it just sums up the type of guy he is, the superstar he is. The teammate he is. If this guy wants to rally us together for a pep talk, it was like 24 kindergartners looking up at their teacher. He got everyone’s attention and we looked him right in the eyes. That message was pretty powerful.”
Ortiz collected half of the team’s six hits by going three-for-three with a walk and two runs scored.