David Ortiz enjoyed a slump-breaking afternoon with three hits yesterday, including his 33d home run, and three RBIs, which drew him even with Manny Ramirez for the American League lead with 115. But Ortiz, who had entered the game with just six hits in his previous 38 at-bats, said his recent lack of production had less to do with his swing than with the way he is being pitched and his approach at the plate.
''The pitchers, they don't want to make mistakes with you," he said. ''They've been careful with the pitches they make. Yesterday, I faced a guy [Fernando Rodney], he throws 96, and all he wants to do is throw me changeups. He threw me a fastball in Detroit, and I hit it for a home run.
''Everybody makes adjustments. The pitchers make adjustments, I make adjustments. At this point, all you want to do is keep helping your ball club. You even saw me bunt."
With Johnny Damon on second and one out in the first, Ortiz, who last Sunday bunted safely for a hit in Anaheim, bunted foul. The Tigers' overshifted defense adjusted slightly after that, and Ortiz, who then singled through the shift, thinks it might have helped open up a hole.
''It's not like I want to be 'David Ortiz,' " said Ortiz, explaining his willingness to drop the strongman persona from time to time. ''It's all about winning. As long as we produce a run, as long as I move over a runner for Manny, I'm going to try to do it.
''It's not about the numbers."
The Sox, whose 14-game Fenway winning streak was broken in Saturday night's 12-8 loss to the Tigers, have scored at least seven runs in each of their last 10 home games. In the last 13 games at Fenway, the Sox have hit .338 (154 for 455) and scored 114 runs, averaging 11.8 hits and 8.8 runs a game.
Let him up
Invoking the example of Mark Bellhorn, the second baseman booed regularly before being let go by the Sox, captain Jason Varitek said he wished fans would let up on first baseman Kevin Millar, who has become the most popular target of their disaffection.
''It's frustrating to see him get booed because he's such a big part of this team," said Varitek, noting that Millar yesterday singled to start a two-run rally in the second, drew a walk and scored in the team's four-run sixth, and also threw a runner out at the plate after making an error on a ground ball.
''It's important that people understand how important he is to this team. He's still having quality at-bats. He is a big, important part of this team and if they want to see this team do well, I'd like to see them get behind him. It doesn't matter who's playing, you see what happened with Bellhorn, you got him booed out of here. If he doesn't hit that home run off [Jon] Lieber in the playoffs and [Julian] Tavarez in the World Series, we might not have had what we had last year.
''Getting back to Millar, if he doesn't have that great at-bat against [Mariano] Rivera, [Dave] Roberts never steals that bag."
Short stop for pitcher?
Rookie lefty Abe Alvarez was called up from Pawtucket and pitched a scoreless ninth after the Sox announced that lefthander Mike Remlinger had been designated for assignment, with manager Terry Francona indicating the club intended to accelerate his release to give him a chance to sign elsewhere. But Alvarez's stay is likely to be a short one. He made sense yesterday because he was well rested, not having pitched in four days, but when Remlinger clears waivers Wednesday, that will open a spot on the 40-man roster, which could create room for lefthanded reliever Matt Perisho, a nonroster pickup from the Florida Marlins who has been pitching well for the PawSox. Remlinger, a native of Plymouth who has pitched for five division-winning teams, was a washout for the Sox, allowing 14 runs (11 earned) on 15 hits and 5 walks in 6 2/3 innings. At 39, and having fought through arm problems the last three years, Remlinger may be at the end of a distinguished career. ''We talked to him last night," Francona said. ''He probably took it better than I did. He's one of the most professional people I've been around. You just happen to run into special people in this game, and he's right there. It's hard to imagine feeling that way about someone who was just here three weeks, but that's how we feel."
Francona said the plan is for Keith Foulke, who pitched back-to-back days in Lowell over the weekend, to pitch there again tomorrow, which would put him on target for a return Thursday. Foulke was scored upon in each of his appearances for the Single A Spinners, an unearned run Saturday and a run on a walk, stolen base, and RBI single yesterday. He threw 21 pitches yesterday, 12 for strikes, and the radar gun showed his velocity at 87 m.p.h. There is some internal debate over whether the Sox would be better served by flip-flopping Jonathan Papelbon and Bronson Arroyo, with Papelbon taking Arroyo's spot in the rotation and Arroyo going into the bullpen, where he has proven effective. But the Sox are leery of putting a greater workload on Papelbon, who already has 130 innings this season . . . Sox officials said last night that contrary to information on the Portland Sea Dogs' website and a release issued by the opposing team, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, prized prospect Anibal Sanchez was not injured in yesterday's game. He came out early because he was on a 60-pitch count, the officials said . . . Rule 5 outfielder Adam Stern, out with a sprained right thumb, is expected to begin a brief rehab assignment tomorrow. He has been on the disabled list since Aug. 20 . . . Second baseman Tony Graffanino has hit safely in all 12 of his Fenway starts, going 21 for 46 (.457) with 12 RBIs and 18 runs . . . Matt Clement, who starts tonight against the Devil Rays, has just one win in seven starts since the All-Star break (1-1, 6.00 ERA, 38 H and 15 BB in 36 IP). That span, of course, includes his July 26 start against Tampa Bay in St. Petersburg when he was struck in the head by a line drive hit by Carl Crawford. In his last three starts, Clement has no decisions despite a 2.25 ERA, allowing 5 earned runs on 18 hits and 4 walks while striking out 13 . . . Legendary broadcaster Curt Gowdy, 86, was honored in pregame ceremonies . . . Three Double A Portland players made the postseason Eastern League All-Star team: lefthanded pitcher Jon Lester, shortstop Hanley Ramirez, and second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who was promoted to Pawtucket June 22.