DETROIT -- As a former winter ball teammate in the Dominican Republic, David Ortiz knew two things about Detroit's recently appointed closer, Fernando Rodney.
No. 1: The man has a good fastball, one that used to peak at 99 miles per hour, but has since slipped to the low-to-mid 90s, but remains Option A.
No. 2: His well-masked changeup is Option 1A.
And so, when Ortiz batted with one out in the ninth inning of last night's 10-7, 10-inning win, the Red Sox behind, 3-2, at the time, the DH was thinking back to those days with the Escogido Lions, and thinking ahead with each pitch to what would come next.
Changeup to begin the at-bat for a ball. A second changeup for a ball. A fastball for a ball. A changeup for a called strike.
''I guess he threw a changeup to slow me down," Ortiz said. ''I wasn't giving up on that fastball."
He got it on 3 and 1 and sent it in the direction of a shimmering moon hanging over right-center at
In a cathartic 10th inning, a night after Detroit scored three runs in its last at-bat to beat Curt Schilling, the Sox battered three relievers, scoring seven runs on seven hits, including two home runs, for a 10-3 lead.
It ended 10-7, after lefthander Mike Remlinger (3 appearances with the Sox, 1 IP, 5 H, 9 R, 6 ER, 4 BB, 1 K) loaded the bases and became the victim of Craig Monroe's first career grand slam in the bottom of the 10th.
The win vaulted the Sox back to 4 1/2 games ahead of the Yankees, on a night when New York's Scott Proctor walked in the winning run on four pitches in Tampa Bay.
Remlinger's difficulties are something the club has to be concerned with. But they didn't cost the Sox the game, and manager Terry Francona can thank his inimitable lineup for that.
Ortiz, for the second time in five days, homered in back-to-back innings. Last night, he hit the solo homer in the ninth and a three-run blast in the 10th that expanded a 5-3 lead to 8-3. The second homer gave him 31 for the season, with 105 RBIs. Friday at Fenway, Ortiz broke a 5-5 tie with a homer in the seventh, then tacked on a three-run blast (that proved the game-winner) in the eighth.
Two batters after Ortiz connected in the 10th, Jason Varitek yanked a two-run shot to right, his second homer of the game, this one lefthanded after going deep in the second inning batting righthanded. The Sox catcher -- is there anyone better in baseball at his position? -- has homered 20 times this season and could eclipse Carlton Fisk's team record for a catcher (26).
Varitek had never homered from both sides of the plate in the big leagues.
''It's been a long time," he said. ''Since Triple A."
Varitek's homer in the second inning provided a 2-0 lead and the only runs the Sox would get until the ninth.
''Varitek, without that swing early, we've got nothing going," Francona said.
That's because Tigers lefthanded starter Nate Robertson had just about everything going.
''He threw the ball awfully good," said Ortiz. ''That might be the best I've ever seen him."
Robertson allowed only two hits through eight innings -- Varitek's homer and an Edgar Renteria single in the sixth. That made it a little bit surprising to see him come out after eight innings (and 90 pitches) in favor of Rodney, who blew his second save in six chances since the Tigers dealt flamethrower Kyle Farnsworth at the trade deadline.
''If anybody felt like it was a lock, you're absolutely wrong, even if Nate was back out there," said Detroit manager Alan Trammell. ''David Ortiz. How many times has he hurt other people? Did I like seeing him come up? If it was against Nate Robertson, [Jeremy] Bonderman . . . you're never comfortable.
''[Same] with Manny and Varitek. Those aren't easy guys to get out, especially in those key situations, where they have a track record of rising to the occasion."
Chad Bradford, who pitched a scoreless ninth, got the win, combining with Jeremi Gonzalez (sixth and seventh innings) and Mike Timlin (eighth) for four innings of one-hit, one-run ball after Jonathan Papelbon left.
The 24-year-old Papelbon hadn't started at any level since July 31, when he made his major league debut vs. Minnesota at Fenway Park. In between, he'd pitched three times, all in relief, for Triple A Pawtucket. That figured to mean he wouldn't pitch deep into the game, and he didn't, wearing out in the fifth inning when Detroit sent seven men to the plate, scoring twice.
But Papelbon, who will start again Sunday, allowed only those two runs while striking out six, including three in the fourth inning, and walking two.
''I thought his split and his breaking ball were way better, were the ones we'd heard about," Francona said.