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Jonny Gomes' hustling baserunning excites Red Sox

Jackie Bradley of the Boston Red Sox is

Jackie Bradley of the Boston Red Sox is congratulated in the dugout by teammate Jonny Gomes after Bradley scored in the second inning against the New York Yankees during Opening Day at Yankee Stadium. (April 1, 2013) Credit: Getty

The play that had Boston's clubhouse buzzing after an 8-2 win over the Yankees on Opening Day occurred in the ninth inning in a nearly empty Yankee Stadium.

The Red Sox led 5-2 with the bases loaded and two outs when Jacoby Ellsbury hit a chopper between first and second that got past the diving Lyle Overbay and was bobbled by Robinson Cano. Heading toward third, Jonny Gomes saw Cano mishandle the ball and never broke stride. Cano's throw to the plate wasn't in time to get the sliding Gomes, giving Ellsbury a two-run infield single.

It signaled a new mind-set the Sox have adopted after slogging through a 69-win 2012 season.

"When we have each other's backs like that, when we go the extra 90 feet for our teammates, that kind of stuff becomes contagious,'' Gomes said. "Granted, it was one run, one RBI, but a lot more goes into that.''

Gomes is one of many new faces the Sox added to help turn the page on last season's flop. The newcomers certainly made a strong first impression Monday.

Gomes, 32, went 2-for-4 with a walk. Shane Victorino, also 32, another outfielder added in the offseason, went 2-for-6 with three RBIs. Highly touted rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. walked three times, scored two runs and made a good catch in deep leftfield.

"I think the players that were targeted to be brought in here, there's a track record and a history of those individuals to be quality teammates, talented players,'' manager John Farrell said. "So what we have control over, that's how we respond to challenges, and how we have one another's back in this clubhouse is a key for us throughout the entire year.''

Despite the contributions from the new players, the most important development for the Red Sox was the performance of Jon Lester. In two previous Opening Day starts, Lester allowed six runs and 12 hits in 121/3 innings. The Sox lost both of those games, which set the tone for a 1-5 start in 2012 and an 0-6 start to 2011.

Lester earned the win Monday, allowing two runs and five hits in five innings.

"The first one is always nice to be on this side, especially after the last couple years,'' Lester said. "It's just nice to get that first one off our back. Guys can kind of relax a little bit and go out there and play on Wednesday and we're not chasing that elusive first win. That's big for us.''

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