<
>

Usual suspect: Ortiz's walk-off blast wins it for Red Sox

BOSTON (AP) -- No matter how dire the situation appears for the
Red Sox, there's always Big Papi.

David Ortiz did it again Monday night, hitting a game-ending,
three-run homer in the ninth inning to give Boston a 9-8 win over
the Cleveland Indians that kept the Red Sox in sole possession of
first place in the AL East.

"The whole inning we're just thinking, let's just get David to
the plate," manager Terry Francona said.

Ortiz, who also hit a solo homer in the third, got his second
game-ending hit in three days and fifth of the year. It was his
12th in four seasons with Boston, most in the majors during that
span. He leads the big leagues with 37 home runs and 105 RBI, and
he tied a club record with 14 homers in a month.

"You've got to do what you've got to do," Ortiz said. "Like I
said before, the worst thing that can happen is the pitcher getting
you out."

Until his one-out drive to center field, the day hadn't been
going well for the Red Sox.

They didn't make a trade before the 4 p.m. EDT deadline for
non-waiver deals. They also placed right fielder Trot Nixon on the
disabled list, lost catcher Jason Varitek to a knee injury and
watched David Wells allow eight runs in 4 2/3 innings in his first
start in two months since hurting his right knee.

"Nights like this can mean a lot to a team," Francona said.

Boston took a one-game lead over the idle New York Yankees with
help from homers by Manny Ramirez and Wily Mo Pena.

The winning homer followed a single by Alex Cora, a walk to
Kevin Youkilis and a popout by Mark Loretta. It came on a 2-0 count
against Fausto Carmona (1-5) and helped the Red Sox overcome two
homers and five RBI by Casey Blake.

"The guy had to make a pitch at the time or get the bases
loaded and having a hitter like Manny" coming up, Ortiz said. "I
just go out there with the same approach that I always go. See a
pitch and hit it."

It was Ortiz's eighth career game-ending homer, seventh with the
Red Sox and third this year. And that's just in the regular season
-- he also has two game-ending homers in the postseason.

Carmona was in the game because the Indians traded closer Bob Wickman to Atlanta on July 20.

"He's a strong-minded kid and he's going to figure it out,"
Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. "Obviously, that is a very
special hitter that came up there."

Kyle Snyder (3-2) got the win with 4 1/3 innings of one-hit
relief after replacing Wells.

"I've never pitched in a game that's made me feel this way,"
said Snyder, who had been scheduled to start Tuesday night. "All I
was trying to do was give us an opportunity to come back and win
this game at the tail end and I'll be darned if David Ortiz didn't
step up to the plate and do it again."

Blake hit a leadoff homer in the second, a sacrifice fly in the
third and a three-run homer in the fifth that put Cleveland ahead
8-6. Blake has 14 homers and three two-homer games this season.

He was in right field when Ortiz ended the game.

"You're thinking, he can't do it again," Blake said. "The
guy's unbelievable."

Varitek departed with a twisted left knee in the third after
running to second base the previous inning. Francona replaced him
with Doug Mirabelli.

"Tek fought me on it a little bit," said Francona, who gave no
indication about how much time Varitek might miss. "I'm just
trying to be cautious."

Boston scored in each of the first four innings against starter
Paul Byrd.

The Red Sox went up 2-0 in the first on Loretta's single and
Ramirez's 29th homer. Cleveland went ahead 3-2 in the second on
Blake's homer and a two-run double by Kelly Shoppach.

The Red Sox came back with two runs in the second on a two-run
triple by Pena, who was a double short of the cycle.

The Indians jumped ahead 5-4 with two runs in the third on a
single by Jason Michaels, an RBI double by Travis Hafner and
Blake's sacrifice fly.

Boston went back on top when Ortiz, in the fourth, and Pena, in
the fifth, slammed the first pitch of each inning for solo homers.

Then Ortiz finished the game off with his specialty.

"I said, 'He's not going to do it again,'" Pena said, "and he
did it."

Game notes
Varitek made his 1,000th appearance as a catcher, ranking
him 106th on the career list. Carlton Fisk, who played with Boston
and the Chicago White Sox, is the career leader with 2,226. ...
Byrd struggled for his second straight start. ... Ramirez extended
his hitting streak to 16 games, his longest in six years with
Boston, and broke a tie for 27th place with Jim Thome with his
464th homer. ... The Indians are 0-7 against Wells since their last
win against him on Oct. 1, 2000. ... RHP Jason Johnson will be
recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket to start in place of Snyder on
Tuesday night.