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Gomes comes from school of hard knocks as Boston tie World Series

The 2013 World Series is nicely poised after four games.

Jonny Gomes was the hero for Boston during Game 4 of the World Series.
Jonny Gomes was the hero for Boston during Game 4 of the World Series.
Image: Charlie Riedel/AP/Press Association Images

JONNY GOMES, AN unheralded, former 18th round draft pick, chose the right moment to bust out of his playoff batting slump.

The 32-year-old outfielder came through in a big way for Boston by smashing a three-run homer in the sixth inning to snap a 1-1 tie and help give the Red Sox a 4-2 win over St. Louis in game four of the World Series.

Not only was it Gomes’ first career World Series hit and first career playoff homer, it also snapped his zero-for-nine batting slump in the best-of-seven series.

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“The one thing I always wanted out of this game was an opportunity,” said Gomes, who is of Portuguese ancestry. “I got the opportunity tonight. You can guarantee that when I am in the lineup that I am going to be swinging the bat.”

Gomes wasn’t even supposed to start for the Red Sox Sunday at Busch Stadium, but he got the late call when teammate Shane Victorino was scratched with a bad back.

Entering game four, Gomes had a anemic .125 career batting average in the postseason. That is the lowest of any active player with at least 40 at bats in the playoffs. The joke going around was that Gomes could strike out from his hotel room.

But that all changed with his two-out homer into the Red Sox bullpen off Cardinals reliever Seth Maness that gave Boston a commanding 4-1 lead.

“I got a good pitch,” Gomes said. “If I am fortunate enough to get a mistake then my bat is going to come into the zone hot.”

Maness tossed Gomes five sinkers, leaving the last pitch up in the strike zone.

“I just missed my spot,” said Maness.

Gomes had a difficult path to his first World Series.

When he was just 16, Gomes was in a car crash that killed his best friend. To honor his memory he had the friend’s initials tattooed on his right arm.

Drafted in the 18th round in 2001 by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Gomes suffered a heart attack on Christmas Eve 2002, the result of a clogged artery.

He nevertheless made his professional debut two years later at age 22, but Tampa’s team doctor keeps nitroglycerin pills on hand in case Gomes again suffers another heart attack.

Gomes said he found out about his starting role on Sunday in the middle of batting practice.

“It’s all I fought for this year is just the opportunity,” he said. “So when my number is called, I’m stepping up. I’m not dodging any situations.”

(C) AFP, 2013

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