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Monday, October 28, 2013

As They Have All Season, Red Sox Bounce Back With Win-This Time in Game 4 of the World Series

Even in professional sports, the best teams-ones that win championships-often defy logical explanation, that's what makes them so fun to follow. Isn't that how you would describe the Red Sox in 2013? An overachieving group that consistently finds ways to squeeze everything out of their diverse talents. In the biggest game of the season, Clay Buchholz was limited to four innings but five relievers helped Boston hold off St. Louis 4-2 in Game 4 of the 2013 World Series at subdued Busch Stadium.

The Red Sox' win tonight makes it 2-2 and guarantees a Game 6 back at Fenway Park, now the question is who will be playing for a title in that one. Game 5 is tomorrow night (8:07, Fox), the third game in three nights in St. Louis with Jon Lester (1-0) facing Adam Wainwright (0-1). After Game 3's bizarre ending, Game 4 staked its claim in baseball history as pinch runner Kolten Wong was picked off first base by Koji Uehara (1st save) to end it.

Boston received contributions from many guys as usual but Felix Doubront (2.2 innings of relief, 3 strikeouts) picked up the win and Jonny Gomes hit the deciding three-run homer in the sixth inning. Carlos Beltran gave St. Louis a 1-0 lead in the third with an RBI single but ironically he was the guy at the plate when Wong committed his most unforgivable of mistakes. It was only Uehara's third successful pickoff of his MLB career.

Naturally, Stephen Drew tied it in the fifth with a sacrifice fly that scored David Ortiz (3 for 3, double, 2 runs, walk) who is hitting 8 for 11 (.727) in the World Series. Lance Lynn (0-1) cruised through the first four innings but he started to fall apart after Boston forced him into long at bats and increased his pitch count.

If the Red Sox win two more games, Gomes' three-run blast in the sixth will go down in Boston sports lore. It was a no-doubter and he celebrated right out of the box but don't tell Braves hardo catcher Brian McCann about that fun detail. He was a last-minute addition to the lineup since Shane Victorino's back tightened up on him.

Craig Breslow's magic is gone but Red Sox manager John Farrell hasn't seemed to figure that out yet. He keeps throwing him out there which isn't resulting in positive outcomes for Boston. Tonight he allowed an RBI single to Matt Carpenter (2 for 5, run) that cut it to 4-2. Junichi Tazawa was summoned to face Matt Holliday with runners on first and second but he retired him on a grounder to second to end the threat.

The last time John Lackey pitched in relief was in 2004 and he hadn't done it in the playoffs since his rookie year (2002) but this evening, he pitched a 1-2-3 eighth for the hold. Who could have imagined that scenario the last few years with all of his drama and poor performances for the Red Sox?

Lester will need to give Boston's taxed bullpen some innings tomorrow night but he should be up to the task after pitching very well in his previous postseason outings. They are at home but now the pressure falls squarely on St. Louis because if they lose Game 5 then they'd have to win twice in Boston which is a tall order for any team even one as good as they have proven to be this October.

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