ST. LOUIS — Inserted into the starting lineup only because another player was a late scratch with an injury, slugger Jonny Gomes made his mark on the World Series by hitting a tiebreaking three-run home run for the Boston Red Sox on Sunday night.
Gomes' blast against reliever Seth Maness carried into the visitors bullpen beyond the left-field fence at Busch Stadium and was the key blow in a 4-2 victory in Game 4 that evened the best-of-seven series at 2-2.
Boston manager John Farrell had changed his lineup a little more than an hour before the first pitch, putting Gomes fifth in the batting order after Shane Victorino was removed because of muscle tightness in his lower back. Gomes, who said he was informed during batting practice, was ready to fill in.
"The one thing I've always wanted out of this game was the opportunity, whether that was a uniform, whether that was a pinch hit, whether that was to get a start," Gomes said.
Gomes came in batting .125 in 42 career plate appearances in the postseason, an average which dropped a little more after he hit into a 5-4-3 double play in the second inning. But he had a much better turn in the fifth, working a 10-pitch walk against starter Lance Lynn, and Gomes stayed hitter-ish when he came up again in the sixth.
The Red Sox had started a rally against Lynn with two outs, with Dustin Pedroia singling and David Ortiz working an "unintentional intentional" walk to put runners at first and second. After a pitching change, Gomes crushed a 2-2 sinker from Maness that didn't sink enough.
"If I'm fortunate to get a mistake," Gomes said, "the bat's going to come through the zone hot, and it worked out."
A loud groan came over Busch Stadium, which had been geeked to see the Cardinals possibly take a commanding lead in the Series, with ace Adam Wainwright waiting in the wings for Game 5 on Monday. But the Series definitely will return to Fenway Park now.
Often an adventure on defense, Gomes recovered to make a nice catch — after taking perhaps the worst route possible — on a fly ball to left field by Carlos Beltran in the bottom of the fifth. He managed to find the ball, though, before finding the bullpen in the next inning with his home run.
The Red Sox got a solid four-inning start from right-hander Clay Buchholz, whose balky balk/shoulder limited his effectiveness. Lefty Felix Doubront also came to the rescue by keeping the Cardinals off the board in the fifth and sixth.
Other than Ortiz, who has eight of Boston's 24 hits in the Series, the Red Sox have struggled to produce runs. Gomes was in the right spot at the right time, just looking for a chance to help out. And he was well prepared to do so.
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