A three-run home run 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 the game 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.
"Since I signed up for this team I just wanted an opportunity," said Gomes, who had been 0-for-8 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 Monday's Game Five in St. Louis.
Felix Doubront, who came on in relief of Boston starter Clay Buchholz in the fifth inning, registered the win. St. Louis starter Lance Lynn took the hard-luck loss as he left a 1-1 game after a two-out single and walk before the Gomes home run.
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St. Louis failed to take advantage 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.
The Cardinals still had life in the ninth after Allen Craig stroked 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 to end 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 right shoulder tightness, 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.
Doubront was the first of five relievers used including starting pitcher John Lackey, with Uehara nailing down the save.
The critical sixth inning started innocently enough with Jacoby Ellsbury popping out to short and Daniel Nava grounding out to third.
But Lynn gave up a single to Dustin Pedroia and walked the dangerous David Ortiz and was removed in favor of Maness, who left a pitch up to Gomes, who punished the mistake for a three-run blast.
Ortiz was Boston's other hitting star, collecting half of the team's six hits and scoring twice.
"I just keep telling them you don't come to the World Series every day, so let's just loosen up," said "Big Papi" Ortiz. "We are a better team than what we had shown. We have guys with heart."
The pivotal fifth game will feature a reprise of the Game One match-up featuring St. Louis starting pitcher Adam Wainwright and Boston's Jon Lester, won by the Red Sox 8-1.
(Reporting by Larry Fine, Editing by Gene Cherry)