Red Sox rally from 5-1 deficit, beat Tigers 6-5 in Game 2

Red Sox rally from 5-1 deficit, beat Tigers 6-5 in Game 2
October 13, 2013, 11:45 pm
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BOSTON -- All right, Patriots. The Red Sox will see your incredible comeback and raise you.

And okay, Tom Brady. David Ortiz takes your adding-to-your-Boston-legend, end-of-game heroics and does you one better.

And Kenbrell Thompkins? That was a nice catch and all, but Jonny Gomes and Jarrod Saltalamacchia can top it.

Hours after the Patriots had given the Boston sports world the sort of thrilling victory that comes along once a season or so, the Red Sox eclipsed it. In the playoffs, no less.

Trailing 5-1 when they came to bat in the bottom of the eighth -- and having once again been smothered by Detroit pitching, managing only two hits and striking out 13 times in the first seven innings -- Ortiz lifted them into a 5-5 tie with a two-out grand slam, a shot that Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter tumbled into the Red Sox bullpen trying to catch.

Then, in the ninth, Gomes opened with a single to the hole at shortstop, and was awarded second base when Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias -- inserted for defense when Detroit had a four-run lead -- threw the ball out of play. Gomes went to third on a wild pitch by Tiger reliever Rick Porcello, and came home with the winning run when Saltalamacchia shot a single to left through the drawn-in infield.

Boston 6, Detroit 5. The best-of-seven series is now tied, 1-1, with the next three games at Comerica Park. After 16 innings of complete Red Sox offensive futililty -- two runs, four hits, 30 strikeouts combined in Game 1 and the first seven innings of Game 2 -- who would've thunk it?

"We needed it, man," said Ortiz. "We needed momentum, and I think winning this game is going to do a lot [for us]."

Until the eighth, late-game drama was the furthest thing from anybody's mind at Fenway Park. Max Scherzer had been, if possible, even more overpowering than Anibal Sanchez the night before, and the Sox found themselves in a 5-1 hole as they came to bat with six outs to go.

Jose Veras replaced Scherzer and started things calmly enough by inducing Stephen Drew to ground out to shortstop. But Will Middlebrooks doubled, and the Tigers summoned left-hander Drew Smyly to pitch to Jacoby Ellsbury . . . who worked a walk.

"That was a big at-bat by Ells, to keep the inning going," Saltalamacchia said later.

Al Alburquerque replaced Smyly and struck out Shane Victorino -- Boston's 14th strikeout of the night -- for the second out. But Dustin Pedroia then singled to right, loading the bases, and manager Jim Leyland went to his fourth pitcher of the inning, Joaquin Benoit, to face Ortiz.

Ortiz launched the first pitch, an outside change, toward the Red Sox' bullpen. Hunter made a noble effort, leaping at the wall and falling into the bullpen, but was unable to make the catch.

Grand slam. 5-5. The sellout crowd at Fenway Park -- desperately seeking something to cheer for through the first 7 1/2 desultory innings -- shook the old ballyard to its foundation with its ear-shattering reaction.

"It was hittable; it was on the plate," said Ortiz. "I put a good swing on it . . . [But if] I tell you I was trying to hit a grand slam right there, I'm lying to you. I was just trying to get my bat on the ball."

"Well, David Ortiz, I guess that just adds to his resume of awesomeness," said Gomes.

Then Gomes added to his -- albeit a much smaller resume -- in the ninth by leading off with the infield single, getting to second on Iglesias' error, and to third on Porcello's wild pitch. The Sox were aided, as well, when first baseman Prince Fielder was unable to hang onto Saltalamacchia's foul pop into the first row of the seats just beyond the Red Sox dugout, keeping Salty at the plate.

"The cameras probably weren't on me," he said, "but I was doing fist pumps when he dropped it."

Everyone else at Fenway -- except the Tigers, of course -- joined in the celebration moments later when he delivered Gomes with the game-winning single. The Sox chased Saltalamacchia, who had rounded first and was headed for second, into the outfield, and the leaping up-and-down, head-pounding celebration took place in short left field . . . with "Dirty Water" blaring over the loudspeakers as backdrop and the fans screaming insanely.

That such a scene would be unfolding was unthinkable for most of the night. Scherzer had been handed a 1-0 lead in the second on an RBI single by Alex Avila and protected it with ease. Clay Buchholz finally cracked under the pressure of trying to match Scherzer and was knocked out in the sixth after allowing a solo homer to Miguel Cabrera, an RBI double to Victor Martinez and a two-run homer to Avila. The Sox cut it to 5-1 in the bottom of the inning on their first two hits of the night -- a two-out single by Victorino and a double off the wall by Pedroia -- but that seemed like it would be the extent of the Red Sox offense.

But -- like the Patriots before them -- the Sox were able to get off the mat.

"It's a good day for Boston," said catcher David Ross.