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Closing time: Jonny Gomes, Xander Bogaerts power Red Sox to comeback victory over Royals

07.18.14 at 10:42 pm ET
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A couple of weeks ago, a three-run deficit in the sixth inning seemed almost insurmountable for the Red Sox.

On Friday night, it was anything but.

Jonny Gomes and Xander Bogaerts supplied the power in the Red Sox‘ 5-4, come-from-behind win against the Royals to kick off the unofficial second half of the season. It was a great start for a team in an interesting position. Every game counts now, as the Red Sox need to start stringing together wins if they hope to make a run at the postseason.

Gomes, who has come through in many clutch situations for the Red Sox over the past couple of years, did it again on Friday, pinch-hitting for Jackie Bradley Jr. in the sixth inning and launching a go-ahead two-run home run with two outs in the inning. Though he’s been with the Red Sox for less than two years, Gomes moved into sole position of second place on the Red Sox all-time pinch-hit home run list with six since coming to Boston. Only Ted Williams has more pinch-hit home runs in a Red Sox uniform.

It was Bogaerts’ home run that pulled the Red Sox a little closer earlier in the inning, a solo shot to dead center. The blast was a much-needed one for the 21-year-old, who had not had an extra-base hit since June 14, going 94 plate appearances in between home runs and extra-base hits. He was batting just .115/.141/.115 since then.

Clay Buchholz struggled in his first start of the second half, allowing four runs on 10 hits. Though he was hit hard at times, Buchholz managed to limit the damage and escape a couple of jams. He lasted six innings, striking out three and, for the fourth time in five starts since coming off the disabled list, didn’t walk a single batter.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX:

Brock Holt drove in the Red Sox’ first run of the evening with a single, part of his 1-for-4 evening. Holt is 16-for-47 with runners in scoring position and 9-for-25 with RISP and two out this season.

– Stephen Drew had a couple of hits on the evening, including a ground-rule double that bounced into the Red Sox bullpen. Though the hits have not been coming frequently for Drew, four of his last seven hits have gone for extra bases, and he’s slugging .533 since he homered in back-to-back games of a doubleheader on July 5.

– The Red Sox were able to control the running game of the Royals, who finished the first half with an American League-leading 79 stolen bases. David Ross caught Eric Hosmer, the only runner who tried to steal, in the first inning. He’s thrown out 29 percent of runners on the year.

Koji Uehara earned his 19th save, stranding a runner on second in the ninth inning.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX:

– It was relatively smooth sailing for Buchholz through the first three innings; he allowed a run in the first but was able to limit the damage and retired seven straight through the end of the third. But the heart of the Royals lineup tagged Buchholz for two runs in the fourth with four straight hits to open the inning. Buchholz was able to induce a couple of ground balls and retire the next three batters, but the Royals tacked on another run an inning later.

Hosmer was troublesome for Buchholz all night, going 3-for-3 with a double and a pair of RBIs against the Red Sox right-hander. Hosmer had been hitless in four at-bats against Buchholz coming into the game.

However, Buchholz continued to show improved command. He’s allowed just one walk in 35 2/3 innings since coming off the disabled list (as compared to 26 strikeouts). For some context: Buchholz had walked 18 in 24 1/3 innings in his last five games before hitting the DL, which includes that eight-walk catastrophe against the Braves on May 26.

David Ortiz was stymied by James Shields, going 0-for-3 against the Royals starter. He popped out on the first pitch he saw from Shields, fouling out to the catcher with one out and a runner on first. He also popped out to the infield in his second at-bat, a high fly that almost resulted in a collision around the pitcher’s mound. He also grounded into a double play.

The rough night for Ortiz is especially unusual seeing as how he’s hit Shields very well in the past, batting .302/.380/.603 with three home runs and 10 doubles in 63 at-bats prior to Friday night.

Ortiz was happy to see Shields leave the game. He finished the night 1-for-4 with a double, a line shot down the right-field line off of reliever Kelvin Herrera, though he was caught between second and third a batter later when he got a bad read on a ground ball up the middle that was snared by the pitcher.

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