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Walk-off this way

Posted by Christopher L. Gasper, Globe Staff  June 24, 2006 06:49 PM

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Alex Gonzalez said he heard David Ortiz tell one of the grounds crew members before the bottom of the 10th, "That's it."

Ortiz backed up his words with a walkoff two-run homer to center field off Phillies closer Tom Gordon, delivering Boston a 5-3 extra-inning win over Philadelphia, the Sox eighth straight victory -- all against National League East competition.

"He wanted to be the hero and he did it," said Gonzalez.

On the pitch before his long goodbye to center, Ortiz weakly waved at a slider from Gordon, but he parked the next offering from "Flash" into the center field bleachers.

"Yeah, you make a mistake to that type of guy, Papi or Manny, somebody got to pay," said Gonzalez.

The walkoff blast was Ortiz's second of the season, he slugged the Sox to a 5-4 win over the Texas Rangers in the first game of a day-night doubleheader on June 11, launching a three-run blast off Rangers closer Akinori Otsuka with two outs in the ninth. Since joining the Sox in 2003, Ortiz has hit eight walkoff home runs, including the playoffs. He had one with Minnesota.

"In a sense, you almost expect it," said Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, who got the win, pitching 2 1/3 scoreless innings. "When he doesn't do it, it's almost a downfall. He's clutch. He's money, man. That's the type of guy you want to play with and not against."

-- Red Sox manager Terry Francona said that Mark Loretta hurt his neck diving out of the way of a pitch. Francona said he would probably sit Loretta tomorrow, which coupled with the off day on Monday would give him two days off. "Hopefully, that will take care of it," said Francona.

-- Curt Schilling was long gone by the time the game was decided. But the Sox ace probably had his best stuff of the season -- 6 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, a season-high 10 K's -- striking out six straight batters at one point. His split-fingered fastball, which he said he changed the grip on his last start, was particularly effective, accounting for seven of his 10 strikeouts. "My split was better than it's been, from a consistency standpoint, all year and that's a big pitch for me."

-- Red Sox pitchers struck out a season-high 15 batters. Schilling led the way with his 10 K's. Craig Hansen recorded his only out of the game via the K, and Jonathan Papelbon fanned four, including Dave Dellucci with two on and two out in the eighth, in 2 1/3 innings.

-- Schilling on Papelbon, who extended his scoreless innings streak to 21 1/3 innings: "I've played with a lot of good closers, but I've never played with anybody on a run like this. This is unique for me. It's, you feel, automatic. He's so consistent. ...I think hitters go up and like against [Mariano Rivera] you're almost on the defensive before the first pitch is thrown, and that's got to be an incredibly uncomfortable at-bat."

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