Jonny Gomes' three-run homer lifts Red Sox to 4-2 victory in Game 4
ST. LOUIS -- How's the next one going to end?
A steal of home?
A walk-off walk?
A walk-off balk?
Anything seems possible in this World Series that gets better, and crazier, by the night.
Led by a surprisingly effective outing by Clay Buchholz and Jonny Gomes' adrenaline jolt of a three-run homer, the Red Sox evened the World Series with a 4-2 win over the Cardinals in Game 4 in front of 47,469 at Busch Stadium.
"It's a heavyweight fight. You have to win as many rounds as you can win," said Gomes, whose sixth-inning homer off righty reliever Seth Maness snapped a 1-1 tie. "And last night didn't go our way."
One night after an obstruction call ended a World Series game for the first time in history, a pickoff ended Game 4. Koji Uehara nailed pinch runner Kolten Wong at first base with dangerous Carlos Beltran representing the tying run at the plate. It was the first game-ending pickoff in World Series history.
"I feel bad for the kid," Beltran said of Wong. "I know he's trying to steal a base or put himself in a position to score. The best way for us to pick him up is being able to come in tomorrow and get a win."
Game 5 is Monday night, with Jon Lester of the Red Sox facing Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals in a rematch of Game 1.
Buchholz, battling shoulder tightness, allowed one unearned run in four innings. Felix Doubront, not thrilled earlier in the month at the prospect of pitching out of the bullpen, again was stellar in relief, allowing one run and a hit in 22/3 innings.
Wong, a 23-year-old rookie, called the team's swing in emotion from Saturday night to Sunday night "a roller coaster." He was distraught about his mistake, but he stood by his locker and answered every question.
"My back foot just gave out," he said. "I just got too far off and [Uehara] made a good throw."
The Cardinals had to put an ugly loss in Game 1 behind them, and Boston had to do the same after Game 3, won by St. Louis on a game-ending obstruction call against third baseman Will Middlebrooks. But things were not lined up for a Sox rebound.
In Buchholz, they put a starting pitcher on the mound who admitted to not being 100 percent because of a shoulder issue. Manager John Farrell decided to give the slumping Jarrod Saltalamacchia the night off to rest his tired bat and arm; it was Saltalamacchia's throw that led to the obstruction call the night before.
Complicating matters further, Shane Victorino was scratched before the game with lower back tightness. That, however, turned out to be a break. Gomes, not in Farrell's original lineup, suddenly was in the lineup, starting in leftfield and batting fifth.
"We've seen it many times," Farrell said. "This is consistent with the way we've responded to a tough night the night before.''
With the score tied at 1-1, two on and two out in the sixth, Gomes drove Maness' 2-and-2 sinker into the Sox bullpen in left-center. The three-run shot gave Boston a 4-1 lead and sent its dugout into the kind of hysterics experienced by the Cardinals and their fans the night before (though without the initial confusion regarding the rarely seen obstruction call).
Gomes credited a dugout pep talk given by David Ortiz, 8-for-11 with a .750 OBP in the four Series games, before the sixth inning. "It was like 24 kindergartners looking up at their leader," Gomes said.
Maness, a 25-year-old rookie who posted a 2.32 ERA in 66 games and didn't allow a run in the first two rounds of the postseason, said the home run came on a straight sinker.
"It was on a tee for him," Maness said. "And he capitalized."
Gomes, 0-for-9 in the Series entering the big at-bat, didn't disagree. "If I'm fortunate enough to get a mistake," he said, "the bat's going to come through the zone hot, and it worked out."