RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
The World Series is tied at two games apiece. Last night in St. Louis, the Boston Red Sox beat the Cardinals 4-to-2 thanks to an unlikely hero, and an improbable game-ending play for the second night in a row.
From St. Louis, NPR's Tom Goldman reports.
TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: OK, the bottom of the ninth inning in this World Series officially is crazy. One night after the obstruction led to a St. Louis win and a deliriously happy fireworks display, game four had a are-you-kidding-me ending, as well. But this one sucked the life out of Busch Stadium.
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GOLDMAN: That is the sound of a crowd quickly going through stages of disbelief and pain. Boston closing pitcher Koji Uehara, who's been so tough on opposing batters in the postseason, proved he has a pretty deadly move to first base as well. There were two outs and St. Louis's clutch-hitting Carlos Beltran was at bat. He was potentially the tying run. But suddenly, Uehara whirled and picked off St. Louis pinch runner Kolten Wong, who apparently didn't follow manager Mike Matheny's orders not to take a big lead off first.
MIKE MATHENY: Well, he knew. We had meetings early on and we go over all these guys. We talk very clearly about a very good pickoff move. He was reminded once he got on base and also reminded that that run didn't mean much, to be very careful, shorten up. He got a little extra and then he slipped, and the slip cost him.
GOLDMAN: Wong apologized to cardinals fans via Twitter, but the damage and weirdness was done. One night a pick off, one night an obstruction - can we maybe have a regular old baseball play like, say, a game-winning home run?
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UNIDENTIFIED MAN: And the pitch and a swing and a high fly ball to left field and deep. Holliday back, Holiday at the wall and it's gone.
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UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Jonny Gomes with a three run homer into the Red Sox bullpen and Boston leads 4-to-1.
GOLDMAN: Gomes' home run, as heard on ESPN radio, hardly was expected. He was 0-for-9 at the plate in this World Series and wasn't even scheduled to play Sunday. He only found out in the middle of batting practice he was replacing an ailing teammate in the lineup. By game's end, he was speaking to the media, the World Series hero du jour.
JONNY GOMES: What's going on inside here is pretty special, magical, and I mean there are so many people, and so many mentors, and so many messages, and so many helping paths and helping ways for me to get here that was a lot more than what I could bring individually.
GOLDMAN: Gomes only hinted at a life story that included a heart attack at the age of 22; a car accident at 16 that spared him but killed his best friend, and the years growing up in Petaluma, California when there wasn't always guaranteed food and shelter. The helping paths through his life included one last night - for all the Red Sox, in fact. Before Gomes' sixth inning heroics, Boston's David "Big Papi" Ortiz gathered his teammates in the dugout for a little pep talk, that Gomes said had a big impact.
GOMES: I mean it was, like, 24 kindergarteners looking up at their teacher. You know, I mean he got everyone's attention and we looked at him right in the eyes. And I mean that message was pretty powerful.
GOLDMAN: Ortiz says he told his teammates to loosen up and try to play baseball the way they normally do - and they did. And it earned them a trip back to Boston.
Tonight's Game Five in St. Louis won't decide anything but it'll put one of the teams a game away from a championship. It's anyone's guess which team that'll be - maybe the one that navigates the ninth inning the best.
Tom Goldman, NPR News, St. Louis.
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MONTAGNE: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.