Bottom third of lineup delivers walk-off win

BOSTON -- The story of how the Red Sox earned their sixth walk-off win of the season Saturday afternoon perhaps doesn't invoke the glory of those before it.

There were no home run heroics to send the crowd into a frenzy. No easy chances gifted by the Baltimore Orioles that allowed Boston to trot home easily.

Instead, it's a tale of three veteran players who knew what they had to do to get the job done. And they did just that as soon as they were called upon.

Entering the bottom of the ninth tied 2-2 and with the bottom third of the order due up against Orioles left-handed reliever T.J. McFarland, the Red Sox, led by pinch-hit efforts from Jonny Gomes and Jonathan Herrera, pushed across the winning run Saturday to take Game 1 of their doubleheader 3-2. It was the team's first walk-off win since June 18 against Minnesota.

"Veteran guys, they know their role," manager John Farrell said. "We had anticipated a lefty being on the mound in the ninth inning so we had some lead time to give them a chance to prepare."

First up to face McFarland was Gomes, who came in to hit for Stephen Drew. As he's done for Boston many times before, Gomes understood that his job as the leadoff man was to get on base, something he had in mind stepping into the box.

"Where we are right now -- whether it's three hits, no hits, getting hit -- it's about touching the dish," Gomes said. "That's where we're at now. Any way possible to have more runs than them."

After watching two pitches from McFarland, Gomes lined a 1-1 two-seamer deep in the hole at short that J.J. Hardy made a valiant effort to get to. However, Hardy wasn't able to get enough on the throw, allowing Gomes to reach first.

"Nothing new on my end, just anything to get on," Gomes said. "He made a great play and I was able to leg it out."

Next up was David Ross, who had gone 0-for-3 in his previous at-bats against Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez. Understanding that his job was to get Gomes to second, Ross wasted no time, dropping a sacrifice bunt that easily accomplished the task at hand.

With Gomes now at second, Farrell made another move, bringing in Jonathan Herrera to pinch hit for Jackie Bradley Jr. Despite having phenom youngster Mookie Betts available off the bench, Farrell entrusted the job to the veteran Herrera, who's been in such a spot many times before.

"I've been doing this the last few years so I feel pretty comfortable," Herrera said. "I know my role and who I am. I prepare myself every single day."

Herrera took a ball before blooping a broken-bat single over the head of Jonathan Schoop at second base and onto the outfield grass. Racing around third, Gomes, taking no chances, slid into home plate headfirst to score the winning run.

"It's one of those plays where if [Schoop] makes that catch I'd be on 'SportsCenter' with him -- congratulations," Gomes said. "But if he doesn't, that's a win. That's the risk and the reward going into those late innings."

The walk-off hit was the first of Herrera's career.

"It was a great feeling," Herrera said. "It's a really nice feeling helping the team do something to win them games."

In fact, the bottom third of the order fueled the Red Sox from start to finish on Saturday afternoon. In his three at-bats, Drew went 1-for-3 with his first home run of the season, a solo shot in the second to put the Red Sox up 1-0. Drew entered the at-bat in the midst of a 3-for-42 stretch dating back to June 18.

"[Criticism is] something that I've dealt with my whole career," said Drew of some of the backlash he's heard while he's struggled. "Everybody deals with it. I know my talent, and I knew it was going to be tough coming in. The way I started, I'll keep my head high and I'll come around. All these guys in here, they know as well.

"I put a good swing on it finally and it worked out for me."

Meanwhile, Jackie Bradley Jr. was able to create the Red Sox's second run of the day with a couple of hustle plays. The rookie outfielder was quick out of the box on a line drive to right for a two-out double in the second before taking advantage of a botched play at first by Steve Pearce on a Brock Holt infield single to score Boston's second run. Bradley added a single in the seventh to go 2-for-3 on the day.

The offense, in addition to a key double play in the eighth inning started by Drew ranging to his left, was enough to keep Jon Lester from taking the loss as the ace left-hander tossed eight strong innings allowing two runs, both unearned as a result of three Red Sox errors in the game.

Lester was appreciative of the job the bottom of the order did, particularly in the ninth inning.

"That was huge for us to get [Gomes] on and then [Ross] did a good job getting the bunt down," Lester said. "Herrera with the big hit -- that's just a good way to start the doubleheader, especially after two off days. Hopefully we can carry it over to [Game 2]."