Text by Paul Doyle, The Hartford Courant
ST. LOUIS — When Sunday began, the mood in the Red Sox clubhouse was somber as players were attempting to process a startling loss.
As Sunday was ending, the Red Sox were bouncing and cheering on the field as they celebrated a victory at Busch Stadium.
Just as they’ve done for the past seven months, the band of bearded ballplayers turned their backs on yesterday and turned their focus to the task in front of them. The Red Sox rode a three-run home run by Jonny Gomes and weaved together 27 outs to even the World Series with a 4-2 victory in Game 4 Sunday night.
The Red Sox got three hits from David Ortiz, who is 8-for-11 in the series. In 12 career World Series games, Ortiz is 17-for-39 with 10 walks and four strikeouts.
Starter Clay Buchholz, pitching with a weak right shoulder, allowed one run in four innings before Felix Doubront pitched 2 2/3 innings. Craig Breslow yielded an RBI single on a run charged to Doubront in the seventh, but Junichi Tazawa completed the inning and starter John Lackey came out of the bullpen for a scoreless eighth.
After struggling to mount an attack against Cardinals starter Lance Lynn, the Red Sox broke through and took the lead in the sixth. The two-out rally began with a single by Dustin Pedroia, before Ortiz walked on four pitches.
Seth Maness replaced Lynn and ran the count to 2-and-2 against Gomes. The next pitch was sent over the left field fence for a three-run homer.
Suddenly, the Busch Stadium-record crowd of 47,469 sat in stunned silence as Gomes circled the bases and players bounced to the edge of the Red Sox dugout. Gomes was a late addition to the lineup after Shane Victorino felt tightness in his lower back, yet he delivered a vital hit for a team in need of a jolt.
Coming off a potentially devastating loss in Game 3, the Red Sox resiliency was seemingly tested before they took the field Sunday. Jon Lester, the Game 5 starter Monday, said he didn’t hear any teammates mention the walk-off obstruction play loss and that the focus had already shifted.
Manager John Farrell has talked all season about his team’s ability to put losses it and focus on the next game. Of course, the loss Saturday was unlike any loss they’re experienced all season.
“The one thing that’s been a strong characteristic of this team and the leadership within our club is the ability to put yesterday behind us, good, bad, indifferent,” Farrell said before Game 4. “Once we get on the field and begin our work and the routines that will come out of our BP and the first pitch thrown, our focus and intent is clearly on [Sunday]. We can’t go back to [Saturday].”
The cloud hanging over the team’s ability to forge ahead, of course, was the status of Buchholz. The team’s best starter for the first two months of the season has been experiencing fatigue in his shoulder, the result of missing three months during the season.
He allowed seven earned runs in 10 2/3 innings during the American League Championship Series, and his Game 4 start was considered questionable as the Red Sox brass pondered their options. The team had starter Ryan Dempster in the bullpen ready for a long relief stint and even Game 2 starter John Lackey — on track to start Game 6, if necessary — was in the bullpen.
As it turned out, Buchholz managed to scratch out four innings and left the game with scored tied, 1-1. His fastball never exceeded 90 mph, and it was often in the 87 mph to 89 mph range.
But while his command wasn’t great, Buchholz allowed just one unearned run on three hits and three walks while recording 12 outs. The lone run came in the third, when Matt Carpenter hit a one-out single to center that was bobbled by Jacoby Ellsbury, allowing the runner to take second.
It was Boston’s sixth error of the series. The team has at least one error in every World Series game.
Carpenter scored when Carlos Beltran singled to right-center. But Buchholz retired Matt Holliday and Matt Adams on fly balls, ending the threat.
His other difficult inning was the fourth. Jon Jay walked with one out before David Freese reached on a fielder’s choice — shortstop Stephen Drew fielded a weak grounder and flipped the ball from his glove to Pedroia at second.
Freese advanced on a wild pitch, so the Red Sox intentionally walked Daniel Descalso and pitcher Lynn flied to right to end the inning.
Buchholz was lifted for a pinch hitter in the fifth, when the Red Sox pushed the tying run across the plate. After managing one hit through four innings, the Red Sox got a leadoff double from Ortiz off Lynn in the fifth.
Gomes and Bogaerts each walked — for Bogaerts, the seventh walk in 26th postseason plate appearance — before Drew delivered a run with a sacrifice fly to left. Drew, stepping into the batter’s box with the bases loaded, had been 4-for-45.