Ortiz homered in back-to-back at-bats Wednesday night, including
a solo shot in the 10th inning to give the Boston Red Sox a 5-4
victory over the White Sox.
The loss dropped Chicago into a first-place tie with Minnesota
in the AL Central.
"He definitely does some damage against us," Frank Thomas said
of Ortiz. "We have to keep fighting. We just need to win by one
Ortiz spent the previous five seasons with the Minnesota Twins,
Chicago's fierce AL Central rival. And he was brutal to the White
Sox when he was there, hitting .375 against them last year and .353
He may have moved to Boston as a free agent in the offseason,
but still knows how to give Chicago fits. He went 3-for-5 with four
RBI Wednesday night, matching his career and season highs.
"The guy's having a great season, and today made it even
better," Boston manager Grady Little said. "He's a good kid, he's
a good teammate and he means a lot to this ballclub."
Manny Ramirez showed how much he means to the Red Sox, too. Back
in the lineup a day after being benched, he went 2-for-4 with a run
scored and made a great defensive play in the ninth to save what
would have been a game-winning run for the White Sox.
With the victory, Boston moved three games behind the AL
East-leading Yankees heading into their weekend series. The Red Sox
also pulled even with Seattle in the wild-card race.
"Obviously some things have been going on the last week, and
people like to stir up controversy," Boston pitcher Derek Lowe
said. "We stay together. And we don't let one game affect us. This
game isn't going to affect Friday night's game."
Both teams struggled to get clutch hits early. The Red Sox left
runners at second and third in both the sixth and seventh innings,
while the White Sox stranded six through the first six innings.
But they found their grooves in the seventh, and Ramirez and
Ortiz seemed to have sealed a victory in the eighth.
Ramirez was out of the lineup Tuesday in a thinly veiled
punishment for his recent behavior. He missed the weekend series
against the Yankees with a severe sore throat, yet was spotted out
Then when Little asked him to pinch-hit Monday, Ramirez said he
was still "too weak."
Though Little claimed he wasn't punishing Ramirez by benching
him, the message was clear. And Ramirez apparently got it.
He drew a leadoff walk off Scott Sullivan in the eighth, and
Ortiz followed with a home run to give Boston the 4-3 lead.
"I was surprised Ortiz didn't hit the ball further -- it was
right down the middle of the plate," Sullivan said. "A big
ballgame like that, there's no excuses, to tell you the truth. I
just didn't get the job done."
Jose Valentin bailed out Sullivan with a leadoff homer in the
eighth off Mike Timlin, and the White Sox had a chance to win it in
the ninth. Thomas singled with one out, and Aaron Rowand came in to
Magglio Ordonez hit a grounder down the left-field line that
rolled to the wall. Third-base coach Bruce Kimm decided to send
Rowand, but Ramirez made a perfect throw to Nomar Garciaparra, who
rifled the ball home to beat Rowand by about 5 feet.
"The key to that play was the throw Manny made to Nomar,"
Little said. "It was a well-executed play, and that made the
difference in the game being over or not."
It also gave Ortiz another chance to shine. With one out in the
10th, he took Tom Gordon (6-6) deep for a game-winning solo homer.
It was Ortiz's 25th homer, and ninth in his last 13 games.
"Why should I feel pressure?" Ortiz said. "It just takes your
ability away from you. You don't put pressure on yourself, your
muscles are loose and things work out."
Kim (7-4) gave up two hits in two innings. Gordon gave up just
one hit in 1 1-3 innings, but it was Ortiz's homer.
"I'm not really worried if someone thinks I'm a hot hitter,"
Ortiz said. "I just try to help my team, not try to overdo
White Sox manager Jerry Manuel was ejected in the bottom of
the eighth for arguing a called strikeout on pinch-hitter Tony
Graffanino. ... Varitek had been in a 1-for-16 slump in his last
six games before his homer. ... Valentin's single in the sixth
broke an 0-for-24 slump.