He used two of the regular starters in relief. He employed pinch-hitters and pinch-runners and even pulled off a double switch. This was as close to a must-win game as you can have -- the Red Sox didn't want to fall behind 3-1 in the World Series -- and John Farrell played it as such, pulling out all the stops in Game 4 Sunday night at Busch Stadium.
And it worked.
Thanks to a three-run homer by a guy who wasn't even supposed to be playing -- Jonny Gomes, who went into the lineup when Shane Victorino was a late scratch because of back tightness -- and five innings of one-run relief from five pitchers, the Red Sox pulled even in the Series with a 4-2 win over the Cardinals. The victory, which evens the series at 2-2, ensures that the teams will play at least once more in Boston, with Game 6 scheduled for Wednesday night at Fenway Park.
Farrell went into the game knowing that starter Clay Buchholz -- bothered by shoulder pain and tightness -- wouldn't give him many innings; his hope was that whatever he got would be good. And it was, as Buchholz got the Sox into the top of the fifth trailing by only 1-0. They tied it on a sacrifice fly by Stephen Drew in the fifth, and Felix Doubront -- one of the regular-season starters -- came in with 2 2/3 shutdown innings. And when he was finished, the Sox were ahead 4-1, thanks to Gomes' home run in the sixth.
When Doubront gave up a two-out double to pinch-hitter Shane Robinson in the seventh, Farrell went back to Craig Breslow -- who had failed in the seventh innings of Games 2 and 3 -- to get the final out and put the Red Sox in the eighth with a three-run lead. But for the third straight game, the move backfired.
Left-handed-hitting Matt Carpenter drove in Robinson with an RBI single to right, with Robinson -- who didn't bother to slide -- just barely beating Daniel Nava's throw to the plate. Breslow then walked Carlos Beltran on four pitches, and suddenly the Cardinals had the go-ahead run coming to the plate in the person of Matt Holliday.
Farrell went to Junichi Tazawa for a repeat of the critical Game 3 matchup. Holliday won that one, breaking a 2-2 tie by cracking a two-run double past a diving Will Middlebrooks at third base on Saturday night. But Tazawa won this one, getting Holliday on a grounder to second that ended the inning.
However, Farrell stuck to his plan of never sending Tazawa out to start an inning after he'd completed the previous one. So in the bottom of the eighth he turned to Lackey.
Knowing Buchholz didn't have a lot in the tank and that they'd probably need four or five innings out of their bullpen, the Sox put Lackey -- whose scheduled day to throw between starts was Sunday -- in the 'pen for the first time since 2004, knowing they could use him for about an inning. That inning wound being the eighth, with Lackey being asked to serve as the bridge to Koji Uehara.
He got Matt Adams on a slow grounder to third for the first out, then got in a jam when Xander Bogaerts -- after making a nice backhand stop near the third-base line -- made a wild throw to first on a grounder by Yadier Molina, allowing Molina to reach second. The jam got tighter when Molina moved to third on a wild pitch. But Lackey got Jon Jay to pop to shortstop and David Freese to ground to short, getting the lead to Uehara as planned.
Uehara was touched for a one-out single by pinch-hitter Allen Craig, but he ended the game with a flourish: By picking pinch-runner Kolten Wong off first for the final out.
At the beginning of the night, the ailing Buchholz had done what the Sox had hoped: He gave them four strong innings and allowed only one unearned run. It came in the third, when, with one out, Carpenter singled to second, advanced to second when the ball took a bad hop on Jacoby Ellsbury and caromed away from him for an error, and Beltran singled him home.
The Sox tied it in the fifth on a leadoff double by David Ortiz, back-to-back walks to Gomes and Xander Bogaerts, and a sacrifice fly by Stephen Drew. They would pinch-hit for Buchholz later in the inning, but one run was all they'd get.
It was the next inning that they went ahead to stay, and it all started with two out.
After Ellsbury popped out and Nava grounded out, Dustin Pedroia singled to left and Ortiz walked on four pitches. With Gomes up, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny replaced starter Lance Lynn with Seth Maness.
Gomes deposited a line drive over the fence in left-center field, giving the Sox a 4-1 lead.
And now it's a best-of-three series.