ST. LOUIS — Midway through batting practice, Boston Red Sox right fielder Shane Victorino had a problem.
After tightening up during Saturday’s loss, Victorino told manager John Farrell on Sunday afternoon he was fine, put him in the lineup.
He wasn’t. He was still tight and achy. The lack of cooperation from Victorino’s body put Jonny Gomes back into the Boston lineup and decided Game 4 of the World Series.
Gomes’ two-out, two-strike, three-run homer flew into Boston’s bullpen to give the Red Sox a three-run lead on the way to a series-tying 4-2 win Sunday night. Game 5 is Monday night with the teams tied, 2-2.
“If I’m fortunate enough to get a mistake, the bat’s going to come through the zone hot,” Gomes said. “It worked out.”
Bald with a robust beard, Gomes is one of the game’s conundrums. He seems to have an undefinable influence on winning, yet average statistics. He can look like a car that just blew
a tire during his careening routes to fly balls. Those wayward efforts often end in slides then outs.
His undefinables in a sport filled with decision-making based on laser-specific information leave manager John Farrell with a simple summation of Gomes.
“Very good player,” Farrell said.
The Red Sox had just two hits by the time the sixth inning started. Both, predictably, came from David Ortiz, who picked up an infield single in the first and doubled in the fifth. He finished the night 3-for-3 with a walk and is 8-for-11 in the World Series, good for an outlandish .727 batting average and 1.364 OPS (on-base plus slugging).
After a single by Dustin Pedroia, Ortiz was pitched around to bring up Gomes. Despite the Cardinals having left-hander Randy Choate ready, manager Mike Matheny summoned right-hander Seth Maness to face the right-handed hitting Gomes and ended the night for starter Lance Lynn.
It was the logical thing to do. Maness had allowed just four home runs all season, two to right-handed hitters. Gomes was also 0-for-8 in the World Series.
After fouling off a 2-2 pitch, Gomes’ homer rose toward left field. He posed for a moment, then had a dash of doubt hit him. He began to run then, assured, threw his first in the air when rounding first base and again at home plate.
Maness doubled over on the mound.
“We took a shot,” Matheny said. “It didn’t work.”
A night after losing in the bottom of the ninth because of an obstruction call, the Red Sox were able to tie the series on the road by pasting their pitching together. Starter Clay Buchholz’s arm was moderately operable. He lasted four innings.
Left-hander Felix Doubront was crisp, going 22/3 innings. Game 2 starter John Lackey pitched the eighth. Closer Koji Uehara brought a second consecutive odd conclusion to this series in the ninth.
With menacing Carlos Beltran at the plate, Kolten Wong pinch-ran at first for a hobbled Allen Craig. Craig had lifted a long single to the right-field wall but only reached first because he could hardly run, thanks to an injured left foot resulting from Saturday’s bizarro ending when he tripped over third baseman Will Middlebrooks to cause the obstruction call.
With a 1-0 count on Beltran, Uehara whipped a throw to first. Wong had been told his run meant little, to shorten his lead and that Uehara had a good pickoff move.
He was picked off anyway, in part because he slipped on his way back to first base.
Gomes sprinted in from left field. His contribution to Boston’s win was easy to firstname.lastname@example.org