Kirkman can't change luck against Big Papi

BOSTON -- Michael Kirkman's run of bad luck or poor pitching, whichever way you choose to see it, met up with David Ortiz on Thursday night at Fenway Park.

It didn't go well.

Boston's favorite son, aka Big Papi, wasted no time with two runners on and no outs in the bottom of the ninth, ripping the first pitch he saw from Kirkman for a walk-off three-run home run and a 6-3 loss for the Texas Rangers, giving the Boston Red Sox a series victory.

And giving Kirkman more to think about as he tries to break out of a season-long funk that saw his ERA balloon to 8.18 after Thursday's loss.

Rangers manager Ron Washington was asked if Kirkman is stuck in a situation in which he can't do anything right. The skipper gave an honest answer.

"Certainly seems that way," Washington said, who was then asked if he still has confidence in Kirkman.

"He's still here, isn't he?" Washington said. "I'm confident he can come in and get the job done."

Washington was down to two options in the ninth -- long reliever Ross Wolf or Kirkman. He went with the latter.

The bottom of the ninth started with Jonny Gomes getting his fourth hit of the game (he had one hit in his previous 18 at-bats entering Thursday). That gave Washington a decision: pitch to Dustin Pedroia, or intentionally walk the Red Sox second baseman and set up a double-play opportunity with Ortiz.

"You're hoping you can get Ortiz to hit a ground ball," Washington said.

Kirkman went after Ortiz with an inside fastball, and threw the ball where he wanted it, he said after the game. Ortiz, a good low-ball hitter, went down and lined the 93-mph pitch into the bullpen in right field. Kirkman said Ortiz was ready.

"He was sitting on the pitch," Kirkman said.

Kirkman has allowed 10 hits in six runs in his past three games. He admitted after the game that he is thinking about his struggles. He's out of options, meaning the Rangers have to let him work out of this or make a more difficult decision. The Rangers appear to be steadfast behind their left-handed reliever.

Kirkman did say that his mind is clear when he takes the mound. And his willingness to go inside on Ortiz backs that up.

"When I get out there, I am ready to go," Kirkman said. "I am focusing on the next pitch."

The good news is the next one all but likely won't be to Ortiz.