LOS ANGELES -- Jonny Gomes had had just four at-bats in the first four games of the Red Sox' West Coast road trip, and was inserted into the lineup against a pitcher (Hyun-Jin Ryu) whom he had never faced before.
But there was no feeling out process or easing into the assignment for the Red Sox outfielder.
Gomes drilled the first pitch he saw from Ryu, a fastball, and hit it out to left for a three-run homer in the first inning, staking the Red Sox to a 4-0 lead just five hitters into the game.
No one knew at the time, but when Gomes crossed the plate after his 11th homer, the Red Sox wouldn't score another run the rest of the way.
"We had a little bit of tape on him,'' said Gomes of Ryu. "I'd never faced him. I didn't know [how] he was going to approach me, so I just kind of [decided] to go with the flow, with what the game is calling for at the time.
"I was hitting fifth and he had thrown four first-pitch fastballs (to the hitters in front of him), and knew he had good off-speed stuff, good secondary stuff, but the majority of pitches are fastballs, so I was hunting the fastball.''
That gave starter Jon Lester a nice cushion with which to work in the first inning. Lester took it from there, pitching into the eighth inning before needing some help from the bullpen in getting the final five outs.
Giving Lester some early backing was huge, since John Lackey had been brilliant on Friday night, allowing just two runs over eighth innings. But the Sox never gave him any support and were shutout with Lackey on the mound for the fifth time this season.
Not so with Lester on Saturday.
"Our starting pitching has been absolutely grinding,'' said Gomes," and keeping us in the game. [Lester] grabbed that lead and ran with it.''
After sitting Monday and Tuesday before playing Wednesday afternoon in San Francisco, Gomes then endured a day off Thursday and was on the bench in Friday's series opener.
Yet somehow, on the first pitch he had seen in three days, Gomes hammered the ball out for a three-run homer.
"Maybe when it's all said and done [I'll explain my secret],'' said Gomes dryly. "Swing it as hard as you can in case you hit it, you know" That works sometimes, too.''
Gomes' big hit was part of strong second half. In 24 games played since the All-Star break, Gomes has 18 RBI, including 13 RBI in the last 12 games, a period that has seen him reach base safely each time.