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Jonny Gomes key to Red Sox comeback again

Jonny Gomes was doused by a teammate after the Red Sox win.

Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Jonny Gomes was doused by a teammate after the Red Sox win.

When Jonny Gomes stepped into the box in the ninth inning, he could count all the ways the situation was against him.

He was facing a righthander.

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“That’s tough,” he said.

That particular righthander, Yoervis Medina, was someone he had never faced before.

“That’s tough,” he said.

And with the Red Sox hijacking momentum, cutting a five-run Mariners lead to one, the game was on the line.

“That’s tough,” he said.

All he could do was look at each pitch as a single breath of life.

The worst-case scenario, he figured, was grounding into a double play that would have ended the game.

“Anything else,” he said, “at least we get another crack at it with one out. So I was just trying to put the ball in play to get an out.”

The way Medina was working the edges of the strike zone, it wasn’t going to be easy. Medina turned the at-bat into a border war, painting around the fringes of the strike zone and putting Gomes in an 0-and-2 hole.

Gomes laid off a pitch down and away, leaned out of the way of one high and tight to even the count, and fouled off a low one, leaving the count at 2-and-2.

The next pitch he saw, belt-high on the outside, was so close that what was left of the 35,886 fans all let out the same sound.

“Ooooooh.”

It wasn’t because plate umpire David Rackley called it ball three, it was because they were all shocked he didn’t called it strike three.

Shane Victorino, who had homered in the eighth and singled in the ninth to drive in two runs and cut the deficit to 7-5, had as good a view as anyone sitting on second base.

“That ball three was pretty darn close,” Victorino said. “It could have gone either way. Obviously it went the right way for us, so that’s a positive.”

But Gomes knew he made the right decision to let it go by.

“I definitely don’t think we caught a break on that pitch,” Gomes said. “I went and looked at it, it was a ball.”

With the count full, Gomes took advantage, shooting a single through the middle that tied the game at 7 and set the stage for the Sox’ second walkoff win in as many nights. With a six-run ninth, the Sox pulled out an 8-7 victory that allowed them to sweep the Mariners and take the season series, 6-1.

It was the Sox’ 11th walkoff win of the season and their 24th come-from-behind win, but Gomes, for one, wasn’t surprised by it.

“I don’t think it shocked anyone to tell you the truth,” Gomes said. “We’ve done it a whole bunch. This isn’t our first time. It’ll be a nice character boost and build a little home-field advantage. But it’s kind of par for the course for what we’ve been doing this year.”

When he pinch hit for Mike Carp in the eighth inning, Gomes knew his job was to leave as many fingerprints on the game as possible.

“That’s microwave baseball right there,” Gomes said. “Pretty instant.”

In the top of the ninth, every ball Seattle put in play came his way. Kendrys Morales shot a single to left field to start things off, but when he tried to go first-to-third on Michael Saunders’s single, Gomes erased him with his fourth outfield assist of the season.

But Gomes left his biggest imprint on the Monster, chasing down Endy Chavez’s liner as he ran out of room and went crashing into the Wall to make the grab.

He stayed down on the warning track, not because he was hurt, but because he was taking inventory.

“You just kind of evaluate your body parts real quick,” he said. “I was just checking to see if anything was shaking or rattling. You gather yourself for a second, head into the dugout and try to get a game-winning hit.”

From right field, Victorino was more concerned for the scoreboard.

“He’s not afraid to shake that scoreboard up,” Victorino said. “I don’t know who got hurt. Was it the wall or him? I saw some numbers shaking off the scoreboard from right field.”

Giving up his body is part of the routine for Gomes. Just 24 hours prior, he laid out to snag Saunders’s sinking line drive in the 15th inning, hopped up, and jogged to second for an unassisted double play.

“I’ve hit that Wall a few times,” Gomes said. “Kind of like [Wednesday] night. Do-or-die situation. Lucky to be do 2 for 2 on do’s on do-for-die.”

The scoreboard doesn’t dictate which plays are do-or-die, Gomes said, because they all are.

“I’ll tell you what, we’re not going to stop playing,” Gomes said. “I’m not going to go out there and stop playing defense. I’m going to try and keep the double play in order, throw the guy out at third and if I have an opportunity to get up on that wall with two outs and end the inning, I’m going to do it and give the guys a crack at it in the bottom of the ninth.”

Julian Benbow can be reached at jbenbow@globe.com.
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