TORONTO -- With each passing day and home run, he further transcends the gap between player and baseball superhero, his game-winning homer total and goodwill seemingly extending to infinity, and beyond.
Yes, the Greatest Clutch Hitter in the History of the Boston Red Sox, as John Henry pronounced him a week ago, hit his second game-winning home run in seven days, this one a two-out, top-of-the-11th solo shot to beat the Blue Jays, 6-5, on a night the Sox bullpen coughed up a 5-0 lead.
That homer, Ortiz's second of the night and 40th of the season, allowed him to join Carl Yastrzemski as the only players in the 105-year history of the Red Sox to hit 40 home runs in consecutive seasons. Yaz did it in 1969 and '70.
''He's an incredible, incredible hitter," said Jonathan Papelbon, who worked three scoreless innings (the ninth, 10th, and 11th) to get the first win of his major league career. ''He doesn't get any panic. He doesn't get tight. He's just money, man."
And so, for that matter, was Papelbon, who bailed out the Sox with three hitless innings after Keith Foulke and Mike Timlin had been roughed up, the latter for a game-tying, three-run homer by Vernon Wells that capped Toronto's five-run seventh inning.
Bronson Arroyo had loaded the bases on two walks and a single without recording an out in the seventh, and the Sox entrusted Foulke with a lead for the first time since the Fourth of July. And the fireworks began.
Foulke allowed an RBI single and a sacrifice fly to the first two hitters he faced, then recorded a strikeout. Terry Francona handed the ball to Timlin to face Wells in what looked to be a favorable matchup.
Wells was just 2 for 14 (.143) against Timlin, and the 39-year-old righthander, in 71 appearances and 71 innings before last night, had allowed only one home run. The site? Toronto. Back on May 24, Timlin surrendered a two-run, seventh-inning bomb to Reed Johnson in a game the Sox went on to lose on a Johnson walkoff homer off Alan Embree.
Back here on a warm Ontario night -- 86 degrees, with the roof open -- Timlin fell behind 0-and-2 and threw a 93 mile per hour fastball. Wells's 25th of the season caromed off the facing of the second deck, erasing the 5-2 lead, which had been 5-0.
Francona subscribes to the Bill James school of thought: Use your best reliever in the most crucial situation with the game on the line, be it the seventh inning or the ninth. So he went to his closer in the seventh.
''Trying to win the game," Francona said, explaining the rationale. ''He's handled Wells so well. We wouldn't wait for a save situation. I've said that. If I let Foulke give up that ball to Wells, I'm more upset with myself than Timlin."
Wells's blast culminated a five-run seventh for the Blue Jays, who'd fallen behind early on mammoth homers by Ortiz and Manny Ramirez.
Ortiz began the scoring as he ended it, with a towering shot. He broke a scoreless tie in the fourth with his 39th homer of the season, a 427-foot homer to right off natural-born Sox killer Ted Lilly, who actually exited after just 5 2/3 innings behind, 3-0.
Ramirez got the Sox to 3-0 with a 440-foot shot off the top of the glass encasing the restaurant in dead center.
Lilly went into last night 3-3 with a 3.77 career ERA in 14 games (13 starts) against the Sox, and, as Francona said before the game, ''Every time he's been inconsistent before he pitched against us, he hasn't been against us. I hope we drive his pitch count up and get him out of there."
And, according to plan, that happened. Jason Varitek followed Ramirez's titanic homer with a single to center, and Lilly was done, at 104 pitches.
Arroyo, meanwhile, was doing to the Jays what Lilly generally does to the Sox. He hung zeroes for six consecutive innings, though he allowed at least one base runner in every inning except the third.
But he loaded the bases in the seventh and was lifted for Foulke. Arroyo hadn't allowed a run to that point, but all three runners he left scored, giving him a final line of: 6+ IP, 5 H, 3 R, 5 BB, 0 K. A start after he struck out two and walked none, Arroyo this time walked five but struck out none.
But his appearance, and Lilly's, was all but lost, as Toronto rolled out seven pitchers, the Sox four, the 11 combining to throw 410 pitches. Papelbon threw the last of those, in the 11th.
However, he did appear to be in trouble once, when Wells took him to the warning track in left in the 10th.
''I caught more plate than I wanted to," Papelbon said, ''but I just beat him to that spot."
The 24-year-old Papelbon sounded excited but composed after his first win.
''It's a little bit overwhelming," he said. ''I expect big things out of myself. At the same time, I knew I could do this. My mind-set didn't change, with the game tied or the lead."
Ortiz, who knows a thing or two about composure, couldn't have agreed more.
''Very impressive," said Ortiz, who enjoyed his eighth multihomer game of the season, two shy of tying a Sox record set by Jimmie Foxx in 1938. ''The guy has an unbelievable arm, man. He knows what he wants to do.
''Watching him pitch, he reminds me of Roger Clemens. He has the attitude and the arm. That kid, when he gets more experience, he's going to be filthy. He's already filthy. When he gets experience, I don't know what he's going to do."