After a brutal Game 3 loss in which it looked as though the 2013 magic was finally fading, the Red Sox provedSunday nightin Game 4 that St. Louis should still fear the beard.
Jonny Gomes’ towering, three-run home run that dropped into the visitor’s bullpen at Busch Stadium in the sixth inning was enough to lift Boston to a 4-2 victory Sunday. The World Series is now tied, 2-2.
Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz scored on the Gomes homer, thanks to a single and walk, respectively. St. Louis manager Mike Matheny will be questioned by many for his decision to remove starter Lance Lynn in favor of Seth Maness, who immediately gave up the Gomes clout. Lynn, who needed just 34 pitches to get through the first three innings, was dominant early and finished having worked 5.2 innings, allowing three earned runs on three hits. He struck out five on 89 total pitches.
Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz silenced some doubters, turning in a fine effort. The righty pitched 4.0 innings and did not allow an earned run on three hits. He struck out two and walked three on 66 pitches. Felix Doubront was also tremendous for the Sox, pitching 2.2 innings while allowing just one earned run on one hit on short rest.
Buchholz got out of some trouble in the fourth inning as the Red Sox got the benefit of a close call at second base in which Pedroia barely got Jon Jay on a force-out. Matheny did not believe Pedroia had his foot on the bag.
Ortiz continued to rake in the fifth inning, driving a double to the wall in right center. The first baseman du jour could be heard shouting, “Let’s go! … C’mon!” toward the Boston dugout following the big hit, and for the most part, the Sox listened as they loaded the bases moments later. Ortiz rumbled home from third after Stephen Drew’s sacrifice fly to left field. Ortiz and the ball arrived at the plate at precisely the same time, with the ball actually hitting the sliding Sox slugger in the back. He was safe and the game was tied, 1-1, with just one out. Lynn saved face by getting David Ross to strike out swinging and getting Mike Carp to ground out to first.
The Red Sox kept the St. Louis offense quiet for most of the night, though Craig Breslow’s World Series struggles continued as he allowed Matt Carpenter to drive in Shane Robinson from third in the seventh inning. He then walked Carlos Beltran and was promptly removed by manager John Farrell in favor of Junichi Tazawa. Tazawa got the Sox out of a jam, holding the score at 4-2 in favor of Boston, heading to the eighth inning. Beltran put the birds on the board in the third inning with an RBI single to right-center.
Game 2 starter John Lackey, who threw 17 pitches in the eighth out of the bullpen, and Koji Uehara closed things out for the Sox. Uehara picked off St. Louis pinch-hitter Kolten Wong at first to end the game in bizarre fashion.
Jon Lester will take the mound for the Red Sox Monday in Game 5 (8:07 p.m., FOX) and will once again be opposed by St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright.
Shane Victorino was not in the starting lineup for the Red Sox due to lower back tightness, an issue which has plagued him for months.
What they'll be saying: In a season filled with gritty, tough-minded play, the Red Sox outdid themselves Sunday night. With Victorino out, Gomes came through in the biggest way possible. Major credit also goes to John Lackey and Koji Uehara, who both stifled a Cardinals lineup primed to score a couple of runs late.
Follow Metro Boston sports editor Matt Burke on Twitter @BurkeMetroBOS