BOSTON — Jonny Gomes’ go-ahead shot into the center field bleachers left him just one pinch-hit homer behind the Red Sox all-time leader.
And Gomes wanted to make it clear that there was no comparison.
“You can go ahead and get it out there,” he said with a little grin. “I’m not chasing any of Ted Williams’ records.”
Gomes’ two-run homer capped a four-run sixth inning that gave Boston a 5-4 win over the Kansas City Royals on Friday night.
In two seasons with the Red Sox, six of his 19 homers have come as a pinch hitter.
“For me, that’s the opportunity I feast on,” the right-handed hitting platoon outfielder said. “I hope I didn’t shock anyone.”
He did have Royals manager Ned Yost questioning his decision to bring in lefty Scott Downs (0-3) to face lefty Jackie Bradley Jr. only to see Gomes step into the role he relishes.
“I gambled and lost,” Yost said. “They’ve pinch hit one time in the last three games in the seventh inning, a bunch in the eighth and ninth. I wasn’t sure if they were going to do it in the sixth, so I gambled right there. Bad decision.”
Another two-run shot in the sixth by Xander Bogaerts off James Shields had cut the deficit to 4-3.
The Red Sox maintained their momentum after winning four of their last five games before the All-Star game. They entered the break in last place in the AL East but were coming off Clay Buchholz’s 11-0 complete-game win over Houston, their season high for runs.
“The way that guys fought back tonight that was sort of reminiscent of last year” when the Red Sox won the World Series, Buchholz said.
Buchholz (5-5) allowed four runs in six innings against Kansas City. Koji Uehara allowed Omar Infante’s two-out double in the ninth, but got his 19th save in 21 chances.
Eric Hosmer had three hits and two RBIs for the Royals as he extended his hitting streak to 14 games.
Daniel Nava started Boston’s four-run rally with a one-out single that slid out of left fielder Alex Gordon’s glove as he dove. Bogaerts was in a 14 for 123 (.114) slump, but hit Shields’ 1-1 pitch into the center-field bleachers for his seventh homer of the year.
Stephen Drew, batting .158 in 29 games since joining the Red Sox in late May, followed with a ground-rule double. After David Ross struck out, Downs came in.
Gomes drove a 2-2 pitch to nearly the same spot where Bogaerts’ homer landed. It was Gomes’ sixth homer of the year and his second as a pinch hitter.
“He stays prepared and anticipates the moment,” Boston manager John Farrell said.
The Royals had taken a 1-0 lead in the first on a double by Infante and an RBI single by Hosmer. The Red Sox tied it in the second on Brock Holt’s RBI single.
Kansas City made it 3-1 in the fourth on run-scoring singles by Salvador Perez and Gordon then added a run in the fifth on Hosmer’s RBI single.
David Ortiz led off the third for Boston and was out on a strange play.
He hit a towering popup to the first-base side of the mound. Shields appeared uncomfortable trying to catch it so first baseman Hosmer and third baseman Mike Moustakas raced in to help. Hosmer raised his glove, but the ball ticked off it and Moustakas cradled it for the out.
“Tough sky,” Hosmer said. “Moose was playing over there for the shift so we are both running after it. I kind of saw it last second, tried to put a glove on it and it hit off my glove. Lucky, Moose was right there to save me.”
More strange glove work occurred in the top of the fourth when Hosmer hit the ball sharply down the first-base line.
A ball girl, seated beside the low fence in foul territory, fielded it cleanly then quickly dropped it. It was too late, though, and Infante, who had singled, was stopped at third while Hosmer reached second. Both ended up scoring anyway on the singles by Perez and Gordon.
Yost argued that Infante should have been allowed to score but “my judgment doesn’t count.”