BOSTON (AP) -- David Ortiz gave the AL East-leading Baltimore
Orioles a taste of what Boston's other rivals got during last
year's World Series run.
The Red Sox designated hitter hit a game-winning homer on a full
count with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning Thursday,
giving Boston a 6-4 victory over Baltimore. It was the fifth
game-ending homer of Ortiz's career – including two in the 2004
"He's getting comfortable with being in that situation,''
Boston manager Terry Francona said. "Like a basketball player who
takes the shot at the buzzer, he relishes that. And he's taken a
lot of good swings.''
The Orioles took the lead in the top of the ninth without
hitting a ball out of the infield against Keith Foulke (3-3),
scoring the tiebreaking run when Rafael Palmeiro beat out a
potential double-play ball. But Mark Bellhorn reached on an infield
single to third with one out in the bottom half and, with two outs,
Edgar Renteria bunted for a single.
Ortiz worked the count to 3-1, swung and missed once, fouled
another off and then hit the seventh pitch he saw from B.J. Ryan
(0-1) into the center-field bleachers. Ortiz was greeted at home
plate by a bouncing throng of teammates – a scene that became
familiar during last year's playoffs.
"That's the only way I can get people to know who I am – going
out there and producing,'' Ortiz said.
Asked if he really thought there was anyone in Boston who didn't
know him, Ortiz cracked, "A child that's just born today.''
It was Ortiz's 13th homer of the year, but the first for Boston
in four games.
"You're a pitch away from getting out of it,'' Orioles manager
Lee Mazzilli said. "Didn't happen.''
The Red Sox, the only team in the majors without an extra-inning
game this season, earned a four-game split to remain three games
behind the Orioles in the division. Baltimore had finished fourth
six consecutive times before coming in third last year behind the
Yankees and Red Sox.
"I think Baltimore is in it to stay,'' said Red Sox starter
Matt Clement, who failed in his attempt to improve to 7-0.
Foulke intentionally walked Miguel Tejada to get to Sammy Sosa,
but Sosa took six consecutive pitches for a walk that loaded the
bases. Palmeiro followed with a slow grounder to second for an easy
force, but Renteria's relay from shortstop wasn't in time to keep
the tiebreaking run from scoring.
Jay Gibbons homered for the Orioles. Hayden Penn, 20, lasted 5 1-3 innings and left with the game tied 3-3.
Jason Varitek hit a two-run double in the fourth to make it 3-1
before Baltimore tied it in the sixth when Sosa walked, Palmeiro
singled and B.J. Surhoff doubled them both home – still with nobody
out. Clement got the next three batters to escape further damage.
Surhoff had three hits for the Orioles.
Baltimore put runners on first and third in the fourth but
Gibbons grounded out to end the inning.
Pete Damon, a retired Army sergeant who lost both arms in
an explosion in Iraq, threw out the first pitch using a prosthetic
left arm. ... The game was a makeup of an April 27 rainout. ...
Ortiz beat out a grounder in the seventh when pitcher Steve Kline
failed to cover first, for an error. But Manny Ramirez grounded out
with the bases loaded to end the inning. ... Newhan went 5-for-15
in Boston. ... Surhoff is 4-for-7 in his career against Clement.