ST. LOUIS — Two World Series games have been played at Busch Stadium this October, and both have had crazy endings. But unlike Game 3, when the Cardinals scored the winning run on an obstruction call, this one went the Red Sox’ way.
Koji Uehara picked off pinch runner Kolten Wong for the final out with postseason great Carlos Beltran at the plate, and the Red Sox evened the World Series at 2-2 with a 4-2 victory Sunday night.
Jonny Gomes, in the lineup only because right fielder Shane Victorino was scratched with back pain a little more than an hour before game time, hit a three-run homer in the top of the sixth inning off reliever Seth Maness to put the Red Sox ahead for good.
David Ortiz had three hits and reached base in every plate appearance while scoring the Sox’ first run on Stephen Drew’s sacrifice fly in the fifth.
That tied the score at 1-1. The Cardinals took a 1-0 lead in the third inning on Beltran’s RBI single.
Gomes delivered the big blow, but the Red Sox received essential contributions from all over the roster. Clay Buchholz, clearly lacking his best stuff and usual velocity, allowed one run in four determined innings.
Felix Doubront pitched 2.2 essential innings of scoreless relief. Junichi Tazawa retired Matt Holliday in a huge spot, and John Lackey, making his first relief appearance since 2004, pitched a scoreless eighth.
Middle of the ninth, Red Sox 4, Cardinals 2: The Sox go in order in the top half with a Stephen Drew fly out, David Ross lined to left, and Mike Napoli, in his first at-bat in St. Louis, struck out looking. On to the bottom of the ninth and Koji time.
End of the eighth, Red Sox 4, Cardinals 2: John Lackey gives the Red Sox a huge inning of relief, leaving Yadier Molina stranded at third and keeping the lead at two runs.
Molina reached with one out when Xander Bogaerts made a terrific diving stop at third, but threw wildly past Mike Napoli at first. He had plenty of time to set himself and make a more accurate throw, and Napoli probably should have come off first base to make sure he caught the ball.
Molina moved to second on the errant throw, then advanced to third with one out on a passed ball by David Ross. But Lackey got Jon Jay to pop to short, then retired David Freese on a grounder to Drew.
The Red Sox left a couple of runners stranded in their half despite some machinations by Farrell with two outs
After David Ortiz singled for his third hit of the night, Quintin Berry came on to pinch run, eventually stealing second. Jonny Gomes walked against new reliever John Axford, but Xander Bogaerts struck out looking at a 3-2 curveball to end the half-inning.
John Lackey is coming on for the Red Sox.
End of the seventh, Red Sox 4, Cardinals 2: The Cardinals cut the margin to two on Carlos Matt Carpenter’s RBI single with two outs, but Junichi Tazawa comes on to retire Matt Holliday — who hit a key double off him in Game 3 — to escape the jam.
Carpenter drove in Shane Robinson, who doubled off Red Sox reliever Felix Doubront. Dourbront pitched 2 2/3 excellent innings, allowing one hit while striking out three, but John Farrell turned to the struggling Craig Breslow to face Carlos Beltran. Beltran walked on four pitches, bringing up Holliday as the go-ahead run.
But Tazawa won this battle, getting Holliday to ground to Dustin Pedroia at second base for the final out of the inning.
In the top half, Seth Maness retires David Ross on a fly out, then Doubront struck out swinging before Randy Choate came on to retire Jacoby Ellsbury on a fly ball to right.
No complaints about Doubront batting, right? He’s breezed through two innings.
End of the sixth, Red Sox 4, Cardinals 1: Felix Doubront sets the Cardinals down in order in his second inning of relief — his first since the Red Sox gave him the lead.
Speaking of which … so that’s why John Farrell has so much faith in Jonny Gomes.
The well-bearded left fielder, in the lineup only because Shane Victorino was a late scratch, crushed a three-run homer off Cardinals reliever Seth Maness to give the Red Sox the big hit — and the multi-run lead — that has been so elusive here in St. Louis.
Gomes’s blast cleared the left field fence by a good margin as he pumped his fists rounding the bases. Maness came into the game for starter Lance Lynn after a two-out single by Dustin Pedroia and a walk to David Ortiz, a development that frustrated the Cardinals starter.
End of the fifth, Red Sox 1, Cardinals 1: Felix Doubront needs nine pitches to get through the bottom half of the inning.
You’d take this after five innings, right? Tie game. Clay Buchholz done for the night but having pitched well with very little to work with. Heck, there’s even been an RBI by Stephen Drew. Not the worst spot to be in.
Maybe it could have been a bigger inning for the Sox. David Ortiz led off with a rocketed double to right-center, exulting his teammates as he reached second. Jonny Gomes and Xander Bogaerts followed with walks, and Drew hit a sacrifice fly to left to score Ortiz. It would have been a close play at the plate had Matt Holliday’s throw not hit Ortiz.
Lynn escaped further damage, however. David Ross struck out to conclude an eight-pitch at-bat, and pinch hitter Mike Carp swung at the first pitch he saw and grounded to first. That’s the second night in a row a Red Sox pinch hitter has gone down on one pitch. Will Middlebrooks did the same Saturday.
Buchholz’s night ended when Carp hit for him. The final line: 4 innings, 3 hits, 1 unearned run, 3 walks, and 2 strikeouts. Have to give him credit — he threw just six pitches over 90 mph and clearly wasn’t himself, yet he got the Red Sox through the early innings.
End of the fourth, Cardinals 1, Red Sox 0: Buchholz is at 66 pitches after a fourth inning in which he worked out of a minor jam, retiring pitcher Lance Lynn on a fly to right with two on.
There was some minor controversy in the inning when Dustin Pedroia was taken out at second base by a sliding Jon Jay on a force play. Stephen Drew began the play by charging to field David Freese’s grounder and flipping the ball with his glove to Pedroia. Upon first glance, it wasn’t apparent whether Pedroia had his foot on the bag, but replay showed that his toe of his spike caught the bag as Jay barreled in. The umps got it right, and no obscure rule was cited.
Lynn (and Cardinals pitchers in general) continue to bury the Red Sox with fastballs. Lynn needs 15 pitches to get through Ellsbury, Nava, and Pedroia — and 14 are fastballs. He wraps up the inning by getting Pedroia looking on — yes — a fastball. The only breaking ball he threw in the inning was a curve to Pedroia on the second pitch of the at-bat.
End of the third, Cardinals 1, Red Sox 0: Have to give Buchholz credit for getting through three innings with stuff that is considerably less impressive than what he usually takes to the mound.
With a little luck, he’d be through this unscathed. But Jacoby Ellsbury misplayed Matt Carpenters’s hard single with one out — the ball appeared to take an odd bounce before it got to Ellsbury’s glove — and the Cardinals’ leadoff hitter alertly took second. The next batter, Carlos Beltran, made the Red Sox pay for the miscue/bad luck with a sharp single to right, scoring Carpenter.
Buchholz, who has thrown three pitches of 90 mph or more, retired Matt Holliday and Matt Adams to limit the damage to one. We’ll see how many more innings Buchholz can give the Sox.
Lynn got the Sox without the hint of a threat in his half of the inning. Stephen Drew, who may never get a hit again, popped to third, then David Ross and Clay Buchholz went down swinging. The most exciting aspect of the inning: Buchholz hit lefthanded. Forgot he hit from that side.
End of the second, Red Sox 0, Cardinals 0: Buchholz wriggles out of a two-on, one-out jam to get through the second. He doesn’t look sharp and his velocity isn’t there, but he’s managed to battle through the first two innings.
Yadier Molina hit a one-out double to left-center, and Jon Jay followed with a walk. But Buchholz got David Freese looking on an 88-mph fastball, then Daniel Descalso grounded to Stephen Drew at shortstop.
The second was another easy inning for Lynn, who needs 10 pitches to retire the Red Sox.
David Ortiz began the inning with some promise for the Red Sox, beating out a broken-bat grounder. But Jonny Gomes hit into a 5-4-3 double play, and Xander Bogaerts grounded to Daniel Delscalso at shortstop.
Lynn has thrown 23 pitches through the first two innings.
End of the first inning, 0-0: Clay Buchholz breezes through his half of the first despite throwing just one pitch faster than 88 mph.
He retired leadoff hitter Matt Carpenter on a four-pitch at-bat that concludes with a grounder to second.
Carlos Beltran followed with a fly out to center field — a two-pitch at-bat — and Matt Holliday grounded to third on Buchholz’s fastest pitch of the inning, a 90-mph fastball.
The Red Sox go quietly in the first against Lance Lynn. Jacoby Ellsbury popped to shortstop on the second pitch he saw. Daniel Nava battled Lynn for seven pitches, all fastballs, before grounding to first baseman Matt Adams. Dustin Pedroia struck out on four pitches, the last of which was a 96 mph fastball he couldn’t catch up to.
ST. LOUIS — Tough time sleeping last night after the Red Sox’ bizarre, frustrating 5-4 loss to the Cardinals in Game 3 in which the winning run scored after third baseman Will Middlebrooks was called for obstruction?
Join the club, says John Farrell.
“It wasn’t a normal night of sleep, I know that,” said the Red Sox manager before turning his thoughts toward Jim Joyce’s pivotal call.
It might surprise you to learn Farrell has no beef with the call the day after. But he would like the see the rule altered.
“You know what, the call was made correctly. The umpires ‑‑ Jim Joyce, Dana DeMuth, that call was made as it should have been. Probably the more issue personally that I have is with the type B obstruction. If there was the ability to have some measure in there in that portion of judgment, judgment on intent. Because right now there is none. It doesn’t matter if there is intent or not. When Will Middlebrooks is lying on his stomach, it’s hard to say that he was intending to impede that runner’s progress.
“So the way the obstruction rule is set up right now, the baserunner can be the aggressor and beneficiary on both sides. They can seek out an infielder, run into him, and benefit by advancing. So yesterday when there’s no intent, given the heightened importance of the game at the time and where we are, you’d like to see possibly the type B portion of that rule addressed.”
But that’s for the future. With the Red Sox now down 2-1 in the series, Farrell needs to be about the present. He’s taken that into consideration with his lineup — Stephen Drew is back at shortstop, and David Ross gets the start behind the plate in place of struggling Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
There was also some late breaking news — Shane Victorino was scratched a little more than an hour before gametime with back pain. Jonny Gomes and Daniel Nava will both be in the lineup on the outfield corners.
Clay Buchholz gets the start tonight, but Farrell said the bullpen could include John Lackey.
“Everyone is available tonight, including John Lackey potentially for an inning of work,” said Farrell. “Since Clay’s last start, there’s been steady and increased — or improvement to — we’re not putting him in harm’s way by walking him to the mound tonight, and feel like we’ve got every reason to believe that what he’s done the last couple of starts out there for us is the expectation going into tonight. If that means we have to go to the pen or a pinch-hit situation in the sixth inning, that wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility.”