- Associated Press - Sunday, October 27, 2013

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A look at Game 4 of the World Series at Busch Stadium on Sunday night as the Boston Red Sox take on the St. Louis Cardinals:


UNUSUAL MOVE: Looking for a setup man, the Red Sox found one in their starting rotation.

John Lackey worked a scoreless eighth inning to protect a 4-2 lead for Boston. The right-hander’s only regular-season relief appearance in 324 career games came in 2004 with the Angels. He also had two relief outings in the 2002 postseason, when he was a rookie.

Lackey started Game 2 and is slated to get the ball again in Game 6, so this was probably his regular throw day. No doubt closer Koji Uehara will be on in the ninth.


CLOSING THE GAP: Matt Carpenter’s run-scoring single off Red Sox reliever Craig Breslow cuts it to 4-2 in the seventh.

That was it, though. Junichi Tazawa retired Matt Holliday on a sharp grounder to end the inning. Holliday hit a tiebreaking, two-run double off Tazawa in a key situation Saturday night.


SIGH OF RELIEF: What a job by left-hander Felix Doubront in relief of Boston starter Clay Buchholz.

Doubront retired his first eight batters before Shane Robinson’s pinch-hit double chased him in the seventh. The left-hander struck out three _ all looking _ in 2 2-3 innings. He stands to win if the rest of the Red Sox bullpen can hang on.

Normally a starter, Doubront was annoyed that he was left out of the playoff rotation. He also gave Boston two scoreless innings of relief Saturday night in Game 3.


SUPER SUB: A three-run homer by Jonny Gomes gives the Red Sox a 4-1 lead in the sixth inning as they try to tie the Series at two games apiece.

Turns out, Shane Victorino’s stiff lower back was a stroke of luck for Boston. Gomes wasn’t even in the lineup until Victorino was pulled about 75 minutes before the first pitch.

Pretty good late addition.

As he headed back to the dugout, a couple of Red Sox gave a good tug on Gomes’ ample beard. Mike Napoli went with a hard, two-handed yank that had to hurt.

Gomes was 0 for 9 in the Series before connecting and 5 for 41 in his postseason career. He connected off reliever Seth Maness, a sinkerball specialist who left a 2-2 pitch up in the strike zone.

Gomes didn’t miss it, and Maness hung his head after watching the ball sail out to left.


TIED UP: Cardinals starter Lance Lynn had faced the minimum through four innings before David Ortiz opened the fifth with a double.

That got the Red Sox going. Gomes worked a 10-pitch walk and rookie Xander Bogaerts walked to load the bases. Ortiz scored on a sacrifice fly by slumping Stephen Drew, tying it at 1.

But that was it for Boston. David Ross struck out and pinch-hitter Mike Carp, batting for Buchholz, grounded out.

A fired-up Lynn yelled in excitement and did a little shimmy-shake as he headed back to the dugout.

Doubront replaces Buchholz in the fifth and struck out two in an impressive inning. Matt Carpenter and Matt Holliday both go down looking.

Doubront is pitching on consecutive days for the fourth time in his major league career. The last time was Sept. 19-20, 2011.

Considering he’s not fully healthy and his velocity was down, the Red Sox have to be pretty pleased with four innings from Buchholz and no earned runs allowed.


SCORING FIRST: St. Louis takes advantage of an error by center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury to score an unearned run in the third inning for a 1-0 lead.

Carlos Beltran _ who else in October? _ knocks in Carpenter with a single. That makes Beltran 8 for 10 with runners in scoring position this postseason.

The Cardinals are 8-0 when scoring first this postseason.


FINDING A WAY: It’s evident Buchholz is missing his best stuff. Not a surprise. The velocity on his fastball is down about 3-4 mph from his average heater this season.

But he’s thrown a couple of pretty good breaking balls _ and what he does have tonight is an effective two-seam fastball. It’s sinking well and running away from left-handed hitters. If he can harness his two-seamer and work off that, maybe Buchholz can induce a steady stream of grounders keep the Cardinals at bay for a while.

Interesting challenge for him _ finding a way to hang in there without his regular weapons. This is not a guy who has a reputation for mental toughness.

After he opened 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA this season, Buchholz was selected to the AL All-Star team. But he missed the next three months, longer than expected, with a strained neck. That led to his toughness being questioned, and Buchholz was aware of the criticism.

When he came back in September, Buchholz went 3-1 in four solid starts. He finished the regular season 12-1 with a 1.74 ERA, but was a mixed bag in three playoff starts.

Tim McCarver on Fox notes that none of the Cardinals hitters had faced Buchholz before tonight.


ANOTHER LOOK: Ken Rosenthal on Fox reports MLB will review the obstruction rule in the wake of Saturday night’s bizarre ending.

Doesn’t mean the rule will be altered. But since it was such an unusual call in an enormous situation, baseball will examine it again.


GOOD SIGN? Pretty encouraging start for Buchholz and the Red Sox. The two-time All-Star was pushed back to Game 4 in this Series because of weakness in his pitching shoulder, and no one seemed too sure what Boston would get from Buchholz.

His fastball was in the upper 80s (mph) in the first inning, and he bounced a wild breaking ball well wide of the plate. But he was able to throw strikes and get far enough inside on Matt Holliday to induce an inning-ending grounder to third.

Perhaps most important, Buchholz looked fairly calm out there.


UNOBSTRUCTED: Now that everyone from umpires to rappers has weighed in on the obstruction rule, the World Series has resumed at Busch Stadium.

Game 4 is underway _ Lance Lynn worked a 1-2-3 first inning for the Cardinals. He’s facing Boston right-hander Clay Buchholz, trying to work through some weakness in his shoulder.

What a crazy finish that was last night, though. Tough to swallow for the Red Sox and their fans. But it seems as though, after some rule-book explanations from the experts, most people are realizing the correct call was made.

St. Louis leads 2-1 in the best-of-seven Series.


SHANE SCRATCHED: Boston made a late lineup switch, pulling right fielder Shane Victorino and putting in Jonny Gomes.

The Red Sox say Victorino has stiffness in his lower back. The change came about 75 minutes before the first pitch.

Daniel Nava shifted from left field to right and moved into Victorino’s No. 2 spot in the batting order. Gomes will hit fifth and play left.

Victorino and Gomes were both hitless in the Series at a combined 0 for 18.


CRAIG READY: The Cardinals say Allen Craig will be ready if needed.

Craig re-injured his sprained left foot on a wild trip around the bases Saturday night, sliding into third base and home while scoring the winning on the obstruction call against Boston third baseman Will Middlebrooks in the ninth inning.

The first baseman and cleanup hitter had been out since Sept. 4 before returning for the World Series. Craig was the DH in Boston, and got a pinch-hit double in Game 3.

Manager Mike Matheny said X-rays showed no additional injury.

St. Louis had one lineup wrinkle for Game 4, with Daniel Descalso starting at shortstop in place of Pete Kozma. Descalso has plenty of starting experience in the middle infield.


HALF THE DISTANCE: For the ceremonial first pitch, Hall of Famer Bob Gibson threw to Tim McCarver, who is in his final season as a broadcaster with Fox.

The pair also made up the battery for the Cardinals‘ 7-2 victory in Game 7 of the 1967 World Series at Fenway Park. However, Gibson’s toss Sunday night was only from about 30 feet.

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