David Ortiz came through big when it mattered and the Red Sox came away with a 4-2 win over the Rangers in the rubber game of the three game series at Fenway.
Ortiz crushed a three-run homer on a 1-1 pitch off Rangers lefty reliever Neal Cotts into the right field seats, high over the Pesky pole, to give the Red Sox a 4-2 lead in the eighth inning when Jackie Bradley Jr. and Dustin Pedroia scored ahead of him. Ortiz had been 0-for-5 with five strikeouts in his career off Cotts before the blast. Ortiz stood his ground in the batter’s box in what seemed like an eternity until first-base umpire Jerry Meals signaled a home run.
“It was pretty close, but I knew it was fair,” Ortiz said. “I wanted to make sure it was fair, I wanted to keep watching it…
“[Cotts] a guy that his ball moves hard away late against lefties especially but that at-bat I had against him the other night helped me to make some adjustments today, and it worked.”
Red Sox manager John Farrell hoped the Ortiz game winner would spark the ballclub as they head to the Bronx to face their arch-rival Yankees in a four game series starting Thursday.
“A huge hit,” Farrell said on the Ortiz homer. “Hopefully this gives us a little momentum finishing out a series win here. We go on a long road trip, hopefully this is a jump start for us but so many times has he bailed us out, no different today, particularly against a matchup that was way in favor of Cotts. Five at-bats previous, five strikeouts, and this time David got him.”
Farrell was asked if he was surprised that Cotts would try to sneak a fastball by Ortiz in that situation.
“They’ve got their game plan against him,” Farrell said. “A couple of breaking balls away, they try to run a fastball in, didn’t get to the spot, and he made them pay for it.”
Koji Uehara came on in the ninth inning for Boston to close out the win for his fifth scoreless appearance of the season.
The Rangers had just jumped back on top in the top in the eighth when Alex Rios hit a sacrifice fly off Red Sox lefty Andrew Miller and Elvis Andrus came in to score from third to give Texas a 2-1 lead. Rios led off the eighth with a double off Miller advanced to third and scored on the sac fly to Bradley in center.
Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland ruined Jake Peavy’s shutout when he homered over the wall in right field on a 2-0 pitch to lead off the seventh inning to tie the game, 1-1.
Peavy was dominant in his second start of the young season, striking out the side in the top of the fourth, and leaving the game after 6-2/3 giving up the one run on three hits to go with 8 Ks and a four walks. The eight strikeouts tied the most Peavy has had as a member of the Red Sox — he whiffed eight Orioles in a game last September.
“He was outstanding,” Farrell said of Peavy’s start. “Second start in a row for him. I thought he had good stuff. A lot of strikes. Moreland is the one guy in that lineup that has handled him a little bit and he gives him a 2-0 fastball. But with no margin for error all day, I thought Jake made a number of quality pitches here.”
Peavy said he was comfortable throwing any pitch in any count during the afternoon outing.
“I’ll do that at any point in time,” Peavy said. “You pitch in the big leagues, you better be able to do that. So I always think I can do that. Today I certainly had a good feel for most everything we were throwing… even though the walks were there… David Ross was outstanding. It’s unbelievable what he does behind home plate.
Peavy stressed that it was a big win by the team, not an individual accomplishment.
“I feel good that we won,” Peavy said. “It was a big huge clutch hit once again by David. Always feels good after a win, comeback win, lift your spirits, get us on the road on a good note, positive spirits. Hopefully the big hit will relax us and we’ll start rolling.”
Junichi Tazawa came on in relief of Peavy and give up a hit but he got out of the seventh without letting a run across before Miller came in to pitch the eighth.
The Red Sox didn’t put the ball in play out of the infield through five innings and had only two hits on the day to that point.
Jackie Bradley Jr. scored the first run of the game in the third when Dustin Pedroia grounded to Rangers starter Robert Ross who tried to get Pedroia at first but the ball sailed into right field allowing Bradley to score on the error. Bradley walked to start the inning. The Rangers avoided further damage in the third when David Ortiz hit in to a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning. It was the first of three double plays that snuffed out Red Sox rallies after Boston hit into five DPs last night.
On the defensive side for the Red Sox, catcher David Ross made a nice throw on a 2-3 stolen base pickoff at first base in the top of the third inning with the game scoreless.
In the fourth inning, Xander Bogaerts over-slid the second base bag on a stolen base attempt on a hit-and-run and was called out after Daniel Nava took the swinging K. Another double play rally killer for the Red Sox.
Rangers lead off hitter Shin-Soo Choo didn’t waste any time at the start of the game drilling a line drive double over the head of Bradley on the first pitch of the game. But the Rangers leadoff hitter would be stranded at third, with Alex Rios behind him on second base as Peavy pitched out of a jam in the first.
Steve Silva can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @stevesilva