Just when it appeared the Kansas City Royals -- and Mother Nature -- had conspired to make the first contest of an eight-game homestand a washout, the Red Sox weathered a 1-hour 25-minute rain delay last night and rallied to score a 7-4 victory in the 10th inning.
After thunder and lightning rumbled overhead for much of the first eight innings, Nomar Garciaparra treated the diehard Sox fans among the Fenway Park crowd of 33,290 who refused to leave to a real thunderclap in the 10th with a three-run homer off Jeff Montgomery, the shortstop’s second blast of the night.
It was Montgomery’s first blown save in his last 16 opportunities, the 14th time (11th at Fenway) that the Sox had won in their last at-bat, and Boston’s 35th come-from-behind win of the season.
``That just shows you the heart and character that this club has,’’ said Garciaparra, who recorded the sixth two-homer game of his career. ``Everybody is confident and looking [out] for each other.’’
Garciaparra hit a solo shot in the sixth off Royals starter Tim Belcher to tie the game, 2-2. But it was his 10th-inning homer -- his 24th of the season -- that made a winner of reliever Tom Gordon, who allowed three hits and a run in 2 1/3 innings to improve to 6-3.
``I had two-plus innings and thank God everything worked out well,’’ said Gordon, who allowed the Royals to take the lead in the ninth, 4-3, after relieving Derek Lowe in the eighth when the game resumed at 10:58. ``I thought I had good command of my fastball and I just focused on keeping the ball in the strike zone and giving my team a chance to win if I went out there and didn’t give up anything.’’
Sox starter Steve Avery, who was relieved by Jim Corsi after issuing a leadoff walk to Jose Offerman in the seventh, had his third no-decision in 15 starts. He allowed two runs on four hits.
After giving up a run on Dean Palmer’s single to left in the third, Avery surrendered a second run when Offerman scored on Sal Fasano’s squeeze bunt in the sixth to give the Royals a 2-1 lead.
``I was throwing strikes for the most part, but it just seemed like every once in a while, I’d have one hitter where I got out of whack,’’ said Avery. ``On the last run, I had the guy picked off and thought I had him and made a bad throw. Then the wild pitch, stolen base, and the squeeze; it’s the worst kind of run you can give up, but for the most part, I was happy with my performance tonight.’’
Garciaparra got Avery off the hook when he took Belcher into the Sox bullpen in the bottom of the inning to tie it, 2-2. After twice battling back to tie, the Red Sox finally surged ahead in the seventh, 3-2, when Darren Bragg slid home on Orlando Merced’s pinch-hit sacrifice fly to right.
But the Royals came back with two outs in the eighth to push across the tying run when Jermaine Dye -- after barely beating out a triple-play throw to first -- scored on Terry Pendleton’s double to center. Then the skies finally parted at 9:33 after threatening all night.
When the game resumed, Gordon entered the game with runners on first and second but got Mike Sweeney to pop up to second baseman Mike Benjamin.
After John Valentin grounded to third to open the eighth, Mo Vaughn singled sharply up the middle but wound up getting doubled off on a baserunning blunder. Vaughn was already around second when Johnny Damon tracked down Garciaparra’s fly to center.
Hal Morris, who was shifted from left to first after the resumption of play, drove in the go-ahead run in the ninth on a line-drive single to left. Damon, who reached on a base hit and stole second, beat the relay from Troy O’Leary to Scott Hatteberg, putting the Royals up.
The Sox loaded the bases in the ninth against Montgomery on singles by O’Leary, Mike Stanley, and Bragg. However, they managed to push across only one run when Hatteberg hit into a 4-6-3 double play. Benjamin came to the plate with two outs and pinch runner Damon Buford at third but struck out to send the game into extra innings.
That’s when Garciaparra’s thunderous hit saved it from being a washout.
``A lot of people contributed to tonight’s game,’’ said manager Jimy Williams. ``The kids just keep fighting and they keep leaving it out on the field.’’