ST. LOUIS -- They needed a win, desperately. They needed a win, or else. They needed a win, unless they wanted to face elimination Monday.
So they got one, which maybe isn't a huge surprise if you've followed this team all season.
But it wasn't just that they won. It was who helped them win. And even by the 2013 Red Sox' standards, that was a pretty interesting story.
They won because Jonny Gomes hit a three-run homer, the same Gomes who wasn't in the lineup until 90 minutes before first pitch, and only then because teammate Shane Victorino couldn't play due to a lower-back injury.
They won because Felix Doubront gave them a brilliant two and two-thirds innings, giving him 14 key outs over the last two nights. The same Doubront who very nearly disqualified himself from postseason roster consideration when he told his manager and pitching coach on the final weekend of the regular season that pitching out of the bullpen wasn't, you know, his thing.
Every win, especially in the postseason, is different. Every night, it's someone new.
In Sunday's 4-2, Game 4 win over the Cardinals that tied the 2013 World Series at two games each, the heroes couldn't have been any more unlikely.
"That sums up this team," said catcher David Ross. "It's a different guy every night. We've got some superstars, but we don't have a full lineup of them. We've got guys who have each other's backs and go out and play hard for each other."
Tied 1-1 and unable to generate much off St. Louis starter Lance Lynn, the offense was listless through the first five innings, with the one run they had coming on a sacrifice fly.
As a matter of fact, at that point, four of their last five runs had come on a sacrifice fly, a fielder's choices, and an infield single.
Not exactly the powerful offense the Red Sox displayed during the regular season.
Enter Gomes, who was a last-minute stand-in for Victorino, with two on, two out and Seth Maness pitching.
"When they brought Maness in," said Gomes, "I'm just a right-handed, hard-swinger guy. I don't think there's too many matchups, really, to stay away from. I'm sure there's all kinds of reports on me or whatever. But if I'm fortunate enough to get a mistake, the bat's going to come through the zone hot and it worked out."
It was the only homer hit in the first two games played here and it wasn't cheap, landing in the Red Sox bullpen in left-center.
Not bad for a guy who, when he came to the ballpark, thought the only action he might get would be a late-inning pinch-hit appearance.
"I was notified about halfway through my batting practice," said Gomes. "It's all I fought for in this year of mine is just the opportunity. So when my number is called, I'm stepping up. I'm not dodging any situation."
If the homer surprised anyone, it didn't surprise John Farrell.
"He's a very good player," said Farrell. "Given the role he's been in, which has not been an everyday role, he's ready every day, ready for a given at-bat."
Only the biggest of his career.
Then there was Doubront, who, dismayed over losing his spot in the starting rotation as the playoffs neared, was unsure of his ability or willingness -- or both -- to contribute in relief.
On Saturday, he tossed two scoreless innings, making his available for Game 4 somewhat in doubt. It had been more than two years since he last pitched in back-to-back games.
But after Clay Buchholz was lifted for a pinch-hitter, the Sox needed someone to help them bridge to their late-inning relivers and Doubront was masterful. He retired the Cards in order -- two by strikeout -- in the fifth on just nine pitches. He set them down in order in the sixth, then came back to get two more outs in the seventh before allowing a pinch-hit double to Shayne Robinson.
"For me, his fastball command was great," said Ross. "He had really good fastball command, in and out -- two-seam, four-seam -- and a good breaking ball. We didn't even use his changeup or his cutter. Doobie pitched well with his fastball, that was the key."
"I was pretty much focused," said Doubront. "And when I got my time, when I got that opportunity to go up there and do my job as a reliever, I was feeling pretty good. I think with all the excitement and adrenaline, I wanted to pitch and I wanted to be in the game."
Was he ever.
Doubront figured he might be needed given the short leash provided for starter Clay Buchholz. Gomes wasn't expecting to start.
Both contributed. Because this is the 2013 Red Sox and you've learned to expect the unexpected.