BOSTON — Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell says Jonny Gomes has a flair for the dramatic.
Well, it doesn’t get much more dramatic than what Gomes did Wednesday night.
The veteran outfielder led off the ninth inning with a pinch-hit home run, giving the again-sizzling Red Sox a 2-1 interleague victory over the floundering San Diego Padres.
“Whether it’s me or someone else, I’ll tell you what, winning’s fun, and stuff like that is contagious,” Gomes said after hitting a 2-2 pitch from Luke Gregerson over the Green Monster. “It seems like it’s someone new nightly.”
Gomes hit his third pinch homer of the season, two of them walk-offs, as the first-place Red Sox won their third straight and moved to 7-1 on the current homestand.
Boston (52-34) also improved to a season-high 18 games over .500.
“I think that’s the good part about our team; every night somebody else steps up and picks our team up in different situations, and Jonny did it again tonight,” said Jon Lester, who overcame a 32-pitch first inning to go a strong seven innings in a no-decision.
The early part of the season saw the well-traveled Gomes credited with being a leader on and off the field, a character guy on a team trying to change the clubhouse chemistry. However, he wasn’t hitting.
He came to the plate Wednesday night with a .225 batting average, but he was hitting .340 with nine RBIs in his last 13 games. His hot streak continued.
“He’s done a great job,” said Lester, who had his best outing in six weeks, albeit against the anemic Padres. “I know the clubhouse stuff has been talked about a little bit more than his play on the field, but all around, he’s been great for us.”
After Boston reliever Junichi Tazawa struck out the side in the eighth, closer Koji Uehara (2-0) worked the ninth and got the win for the second time in the last three games.
Edinson Volquez, on his 30th birthday, worked the first six innings for the Padres, pitching well. He gave up one run on seven hits, walking one and striking out six.
The Red Sox almost broke a 1-1 tie in the eighth, when they had first and second and nobody out. Dustin Pedroia opened with a double, and David Ortiz was walked intentionally for the second time in the game. Gregerson (4-4) replaced Nick Vincent and struck out two while mowing down three straight hitters to end the threat.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who struck out three times, drove in the other Boston run with a wall double in the fourth inning, while Kyle Blanks had an RBI single for San Diego in the first.
Carlos Quentin, who got too close to the wall on the Saltalamacchia double, the ball bouncing over his head to allow Mike Carp to score, had three hits for San Diego. He had been 0-for-11 against Lester before going 3-for-3 against him. Quentin is batting .358 over his past 31 games, but the rest of this team just isn’t hitting.
“Another close game. They got the big hit,” Padres manager Bud Black said.
Black said the game-losing pitch was a “little bit up in the strike zone. He threw a couple of good ones down that Gomes swung through. I’m sure he tried to execute the same one that he did the previous two for strikes, just left it a little bit up.
“Gomes was probably looking for it. Gomes has some pull-side power, he can elevate the ball, and that’s what he did.”
Gomes, asked whether he was swinging for the home run, said, “You might be able to argue I always go for the fences, me just swinging hard a lot. But with the guys coming up behind me, if we can just get the leadoff (man) on, drawing a walk right there is just as successful with these guys coming up behind me.”
The Gomes homer was only the seventh pinch walk-off homer in Red Sox history (the second since 1996). His three pinch homers are the most for Boston since Bernie Carbo had three in 1977.
Home-plate ump Doug Eddings issued warnings to both teams after Jose Iglesias was nailed with Volquez’s first pitch of the third inning. The warning resulted from a thought in the ump’s head that Iglesias was thrown at because Chase Headley was hit on the foot by Lester after time was called.
Lester said he understood what Eddings was trying to do by maintaining control, but more than hinted it seemed like a stretch under the circumstances.
NOTES: Boston CF Jacoby Ellsbury went 1-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to 13 games (.400 over that span). … Padres SS Everth Cabrera, who was to return from a two-game rehab assignment to join the team in Boston on Thursday, won’t be back in time for the day game, so he’s likely to be activated Friday in Washington. He’s been out with a hamstring injury. … San Diego RF Will Venable (hamstring) missed his third straight game but ran in the outfield before the game and was available off the bench. … Blanks DHd because of a sore heel. … Boston 1B Mike Napoli, who has one extra base hit since June 1, was benched in favor of Carp, who had two hits and is batting .316. … RHP Clayton Mortensen, designated for assignment by the Red Sox last week, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Pawtucket. … LHP Eric Stults faces Boston rookie RHP Allen Webster in Thursday’s holiday matinee/series finale. … Iglesias was named American League Rookie of the month, the first Boston infielder to earn that award since Pedroia in 2007. Iglesias hit .395 in June. … RHP Clay Buchholz (shoulder) threw off flat ground for the second straight day and reported no problems as he tries to work his way back to the Boston staff. He hasn’t pitched since June 8 and has worked once since May 22. … Demoted Red Sox 3B Will Middlebrooks had two homers and eight RBIs for Pawtucket on Wednesday night.