By Larry Fine
ST. LOUIS (Reuters) - Jonny Gomes craved an opportunity to make an impact in the World Series and drew inspiration from two emotional lifts to blast a game-winning home run for the Boston Red Sox on Sunday.
A late substitution in the starting line-up after outfielder Shane Victorino was scratched with a stiff back, Gomes's three-run shot in the sixth snapped a 1-1 tie in Boston's 4-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals that knotted the Fall Classic at 2-2.
Gomes, who had been 0-for-8 at the plate over the first three games of the best-of-seven series, said a pep talk from Red Sox slugger David Ortiz and a "Stand Up for Cancer" salute before the sixth inning had provided the boost he needed.
The 32-year-old said he held two signs supporting cancer victims during the tribute in which the sell-out crowd of more than 47,000 at Busch Stadium rose to their feet to honor victims of the disease.
"It was my high school coach who passed away while he was coaching, Bob Leslie, Casa Grand High School (California)," Gomes, who has played for six major league teams, said.
"And little Brady Wein. About four and a half years old and talk about battle-tested. This little kid, he comes out to the ballpark every once in a while, and it was pretty special to be able to do that top of the sixth.
"It really adds to the fairytale that it was for me today."
Ortiz, nicknamed "Big Papi", supplied another jolt of motivation with some impromptu fatherly advice in the dugout.
"David Ortiz rallied us together. As far as the message, I think we'll keep that in house. But I think it just sums up the type of guy he is, the superstar he is. The team mate he is.
"Anytime this guy steps in the box, there's a presence. Anytime this guy puts a uniform on, there's a presence. If this guy wants to rally us together for a pep talk, it was like 24 kindergartners looking up at their teacher," Gomes said.
"He got everyone's attention and we looked him right in the eyes. That message was pretty powerful."
Ortiz led by action as well as by words, as he went 3-for-3 with a walk and scored two runs in the critical victory.
"Anytime this guy opens his mouth, everyone is locked in. Whatever comes out of his mouth is going to be meaningful, priceless and probably something you don't know.
"So with that being said, he had everyone's attention pretty quick. And just gave us a little kick in the butt that we needed."
Gomes found the whole scenario magical.
"And then to add on to that, in the top of the sixth we all went in front of the dugout for the 'Stand Up for Cancer,'" Gomes added.
"It was just pretty ironic that happened at the top of the sixth. And I think there was some angels above the stadium looking down on me and looking down on everyone else."
(Editing by John O'Brien)