Series: Game 2 of 3

Boston leads 2-0 (as of 6/17)

Game 1: Friday, June 16
Game 2: Saturday, June 17
Game 3: Sunday, June 18

Red Sox 5

(38-28, 20-18 away)

Braves 3

(30-39, 14-16 home)

1:20 PM ET, June 17, 2006

Turner Field, Atlanta, Georgia 

123456789 R H E
BOS 102110000 5 12 0
ATL 000110010 3 5 0

W: J. Beckett (8-3)

L: L. Cormier (2-2)

S: J. Papelbon (22)

Red Sox send Braves to 16th loss in 19 games

ATLANTA (AP) -- For a guy who was scheduled to have a day off, David Ortiz did just fine.

Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis each hit solo home runs to power the Boston Red Sox to a 5-3 win over the struggling Atlanta Braves on Saturday.

The win, coupled with the New York Yankees' 11-9 loss to Washington, boosted the Sox into a first-place tie with the Yankees in the AL East.

Ortiz, who is Boston's designated hitter against American League teams, also played first base in addition to adding an RBI double and a walk. Manager Terry Francona told Ortiz after Friday night's win that he would get a day of rest.

But when Manny Ramirez woke up with a stiff knee, Ortiz was needed to play. Youkilis, the regular first baseman, started in left field.

"I guess it was not a bad day," Ortiz said.

When asked what his reaction was when told he had to play, Ortiz said, "No big deal. If I got to play, I got to play."

In the field, he made a fine stop of a hard grounder by Jeff Francoeur in the fourth.

"I'm out there occasionally. I do the best I can, but the DH is my role," Ortiz said.

Boston starter Josh Beckett (8-3) went six innings, allowing three hits and two walks with five strikeouts. He also had an RBI single in the fourth, helping send the Braves to their season-high sixth straight loss. Jonathan Papelbon worked a perfect ninth inning for his 22nd save in 23 chances.

Atlanta, which has won a record 14 straight division titles, lost for the 16th time in 19 games and fell to 30-39 and into fourth place in the NL East, one-half game behind Washington. The Braves haven't been that far under .500 since the end of the 1990 season, when they finished 67-95 and 26 games back.

Youkilis homered to lead off the game, and Ortiz had an RBI double in a two-run third off Braves starter Lance Courmier (2-2). Ortiz, who scored on Trot Nixon's single, added his 19th homer and AL-leading 59th RBI to start the fifth off Mike Remlinger, giving the Red Sox a 5-1 lead.

Alex Gonzalez went 3-for-4 as the Red Sox won their second straight over the Braves after losing a season-high four in a row.

The Braves scored in the fourth when Andruw Jones' single drove in Edgar Renteria, who had walked and went to second on a balk.

"We've been in this before, not that many games back, but we've been in situations where we lost a lot of games in a row and didn't play good baseball," Jones said. "I think everybody's trying to be too perfect, hitting-wise and pitching-wise."

Beckett worked out of a bases-loaded one-out jam in the fifth, allowing one run. Matt Diaz and pinch-hitter Pete Orr singled before Beckett walked Marcus Giles and Renteria on eight (straight) pitches, forcing in Diaz. Beckett then retired Wilson Betamit and Jones on infield popups.

"I stuttered a little bit late but it was nice to get those two big outs," Beckett said. "I was up, up, up with everything but I made an adjustment and got a couple pops."

The Braves added a run in the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Francoeur.

Game notes

Friday night's opener of the three-game set was the largest of the season and sixth-largest regular-season crowd (51,038) in Turner Field history. Saturday's crowd of 49,364 was a sellout also. ... Atlanta 3B Chipper Jones had a sore right thumb and felt ill before the game so he was scratched from the starting lineup. He was replaced by Betamit. ... Boston LF Manny Ramirez, who is in an 0-for-17 slump, also didn't start because of a stiff knee. ... The crowd appeared to be dominated by Red Sox fans, who were especially loud in the eighth inning when they chanted "Let's go Red Sox" several times. In addition, whenever Youkilis batted or fielded a ball, the crowd would yell "You, You, You." ... Gonzalez tied a club record with his 48th straight game without an error.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press