The St. Louis Cardinals found out the hard way Sunday night.
Jumping all over a Seth Maness fastball with two on and two outs in the top of the sixth, Gomes jacked a three-run homer that lifted the Red Sox to a 4-2 win, evening the World Series at two games each.
Game 5 will be Monday night with Jon Lester working for Boston against St. Louis' Adam Wainwright. It's a rematch of Game 1, won easily by Lester 8-1.
Prior to the sixth-inning at-bat, Gomes was 5-for-34 (.147) in the postseason. He started Sunday only because right fielder Shane Victorino was scratched during batting practice when he couldn't shake lower back tightness.
Despite Gomes' lackluster October numbers, Red Sox manager John Farrell had no trouble putting him back in the lineup and hitting him fifth. That was right behind David Ortiz, who is 8-for-11 (.727) in the World Series after going 3-for-3 with a walk and scoring two runs in Game 4.
"Very good player," Farrell said of Gomes, who was signed as a free agent last winter after helping the Oakland A's win the AL West in 2012. "Given the role he's been in, which is not an everyday role, he's ready every day. His importance to this team goes above and beyond the numbers that he puts up."
Before Gomes' game-changing at-bat, Dustin Pedroia singled and Ortiz drew a four-pitch walk. St. Louis manager Mike Matheny hooked Lance Lynn, who gave up just three hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings while fanning five, for Maness, a rookie right-hander who served as a middle-relief mainstay most of the year.
"He's been able to come in and get the big out when we needed it, and we wanted to give him a shot," Matheny said of Maness. "And it just didn't work out tonight."
Gomes' shot to left-center went over leaping left fielder Matt Holliday and settled into the Boston bullpen, quieting a Busch Stadium-record crowd of 47,469.
While Maness crouched between the mound and the first base line with his head down, Gomes fired his right fist in the air to celebrate the biggest hit of his career.
"I looked at the lineup card and saw I was going to be protecting David Ortiz," Gomes said. "Good luck with that. I'm not dodging any situation. I'm going to try to step up."
Felix Doubront pitched 2 2/3 innings out of the Red Sox bullpen to get the win. Koji Uehara worked around Allen Craig's pinch-hit single in the ninth inning for a save, picking off pinch runner Kolten Wong at first for the final out.
That denied Carlos Beltran, whose RBI single in the third inning opened the scoring, a chance at his 17th postseason homer.
"He got a little bit extra on his lead and then slipped," Matheny said of Wong.
The Cardinals' other run came on Matt Carpenter's two-out RBI hit in the seventh that scored Shane Robinson. St. Louis left two runners aboard in the second and fourth innings as sore-shouldered Boston starter Clay Buchholz worked out of trouble each time.
Buchholz pitched four innings, allowing three hits and an unearned run while walking three and fanning two.
"I don't think you can skip over (crediting) Buchholz," Farrell said. "He gave us everything he could."
And Gomes' big swing made sure Buchholz's work didn't go unrewarded.
NOTES: Craig was back in action as a sub one night after re-injuring his left foot while scoring the winning run on an obstruction call. His hit bounced against the right field wall, but because he was unable to run, he settled for a single. ... Before Game 4, Major League Baseball recognized Detroit Tigers 3B Miguel Cabrera (American League) and Arizona Diamondbacks 1B Paul Goldschmidt (National League) as winners of the Hank Aaron Award, given to the best hitter in each league. ... Boston and St. Louis combined to use 12 pitchers in Saturday night's Game 3, tying the World Series record for a nine-inning game that was set in 2007 (Boston-Colorado Rockies) and equaled in 2010 (Texas Rangers-San Francisco Giants). ... Game 3 also represented the first postseason contest to end on an error since Bill Buckner's infamous flub in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series gave the New York Mets a win over the Red Sox.