ST. LOUIS — David Ortiz has a variety of nicknames. There’s Big Papi, of course. Then a few years ago Dustin Pedroia started calling him “Pun.” That is short for Big Punisher.
Now many of the Sox call Ortiz “Cooperstown.” That has been going on for several weeks now and as the games get bigger, it just might stick.
It was Jonny Gomes who won Game 4 of the World Series on Sunday, his three-run homer in the sixth inning delivering the Sox to a 4-2 victory against the Cardinals. But afterward, all of the Sox were talking about Ortiz and his Winston Churchill moment in the dugout after the fifth inning.
It was 1-1 at that point and the Red Sox had two hits off Lance Lynn. Ortiz gathered his teammates at one end of the dugout. He didn’t like some of the expressions he saw.
“I’ve been in this situation before. I know we have a better offensive team than what we have showed,” Ortiz said. “You put pressure on yourself and try to overdo things and it doesn’t work that way. We know the Cardinals have a very good pitching staff but we have faced good pitching before.”
Baseball teams don’t do this sort of thing often, huddling like a bunch of high school kids. But Ortiz felt compelled.
“Like I told my teammates, if you think you’re going to come to the World Series every year, you’re wrong. Especially playing in the AL East,” Ortiz said. “You know how many people we beat to get to this level, this stage? A lot of good teams. A lot of good teams. It took me five years to get back on this stage. We’ve had better teams than we have right now and we never made it. So take advantage of being here.
“I don’t have another 10 years in me. I don’t know when I’m going to be in the World Series. I have to give everything I have right now.”
Ortiz’s words registered with the rest of the Red Sox.
“Inspirational,” David Ross said. “He talked and we listened.”
Said Gomes: “It was like 24 kindergartners looking up at their teacher. He got everyone’s attention.”
Manager John Farrell and the coaching staff just watched, appreciating the moment.
“It was meaningful,” Farrell said. “He’s one of the guys that people look up to. Our guys look up to him. Kind of a timely conversation he had with everybody.”
Words translated into deeds. Dustin Pedroia singled with two outs in the sixth inning. Then the Cardinals pitched around Ortiz, walking him. The Cardinals pulled starter Lance Lynn and called in Seth Maness to face Gomes.
His 2-and-2 pitch was a sinker that stayed up in the strike zone and Gomes launched it into the Red Sox bullpen in left field for his first career postseason home run.
Gomes was 1 for his last 18 before the home run and had not driven in a run in the postseason since Game 1 of the Division Series. But when needed, as was often the case during the season, Gomes delivered.
“The one thing I’ve always wanted out of this game was the opportunity, whether that was a uniform, whether it was a pinch hit, whether that was to get a start,” Gomes said. “So I got that opportunity tonight and the one thing you can guarantee is when I’m in the lineup, I’m going to be swinging.”
Five relievers combined on the final 12 outs.
Felix Doubront, the winner in relief of Clay Buchholz, worked into the seventh inning. Junichi Tazawa got a huge out in that inning, leaving two runners stranded.
Game 2 starter John Lackey, making his first relief appearance since 2004, worked around an error in the eighth inning and walked off the mound pounding his fist into his glove after stranding a runner at third.
From there, Koji Uehara closed the Cardinals out for his sixth save of the postseason.
Uehara allowed a one-out single by pinch hitter Allen Craig. With two outs, Uehara picked off pinch runner Kolten Wong with the dangerous Carlos Beltran at the plate.
There was no signal from Ross or the bench. Uehara just decided to try it.
“I did it on my own,” he said through an interpreter. “I wasn’t looking at first base at all. I just threw it.”
Perhaps something on the scouting report tipped Uehara off?
“I don’t read the scouting reports,” Uehara said with a laugh.
Game 3 ended on an obstruction call that gave the Cardinals a run. This time it was a pickoff.
“That was awesome. It was kind of like last night,” Ross said. “I bet they’re dumfounded like, ‘What just happened?’ ”
• Ortiz is 8 for 11 in the series with four walks, two home runs and five RBIs. In 12 career World Series games, Ortiz is 17 of 39 (.436) with eight extra-base hits, 13 RBIs. 12 runs, 10 walks and only four strikeouts.
• Lackey threw 17 pitches on what would have been his usual day to throw in the bullpen. He said he would be fine to stat Game 6 at Fenway on Wednesday. It was the first relief appearance for Lackey since 2004.
“I [pitched in relief] in the Series in 2002. I was just a kid,” Lackey said. “I’m really enjoying this now.”
• More Ortiz: A guy who could barely jog in spring training tagged up and scored on a fly ball to medium left field in the fifth inning. Third base coach Brian Butterfield rolled his eyes when asked how he felt about sending Ortiz.
“He made it,” Butterfield said.
• Gomes, a student of baseball history, donated his bat and batting gloves to the Hall of Game.
• It was only four innings and 66 pitches. But Clay Buchholz allowed only one unearned run despite hitting 90 mph only seven times. It was all guile.
“He gave us everything he could,” Farrell said.
• Doubront was pitched on consecutive days for the first time since Sept. 19-20, 2011. He threw two scoreless innings on Saturday, allowing one hit. Then Sunday he allowed one run over 2.2 innings. Over the course of the two games, he threw 57 pitches.
Doubront was a starter all season and reluctantly went to the bullpen for the postseason. But he delivered crucial innings.
“I want to be part of the team to win the game. I was relaxed and doing my job,” Doubront said.