David Ortiz homered twice, the second shot chasing David Price in the eighth inning on Saturday night, and the Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 7-4 to take a 2-0 lead in the AL division series.
It was the first two-homer postseason game for the Red Sox designated hitter, who was a star for the 2004 Boston team that won the franchise’s first World Series title in 86 years and is the only player remaining from that club.
“When he hits two home runs, things are going to revolve around him,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “He’s the main cog in our lineup.”
Jacoby Ellsbury had three hits and scored three runs for the AL East champions and Dustin Pedroia drove in three runs.
The Rays will need a victory in Game 3 on Monday in St. Petersburg, Fla., to avoid a sweep in the best-of-five series. They won three win-or-go-home games this week just to reach this round, including Price’s complete game in the tiebreaker against Texas to determine the second AL wild-card team.
“We’ve been in this boat in the past and we’ve forced Game 5s in those situations, also. So Boston this time of the year is kind of lovely, and I’m looking forward to coming back in a few days,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
With the situation not yet desperate, Price allowed seven runs on nine hits and two walks, striking out five. He took the mound for the eighth inning, but Ortiz hit his second pitch high over the Pesky Pole, and right-field umpire Chris Guccione signaled it fair.
There was no such suspense for Ortiz’s other homer, which went into Boston bullpen in the first inning to make it 2-0. Not even right fielder Wil Myers, who misplayed a Big Papi popup into a double in right field in Boston’s Game 1 win on Friday, could be blamed for that one.
John Lackey lasted just 51/3 innings for Boston, allowing four runs on seven hits and three walks. He struck out six and also hit a batter while getting the win. Koji Uehara struck out the first two batters in the ninth before retiring Myers on a grounder.
The most visible — but hardly the only — defensive goat in Game 1, Myers was razzed by the Fenway Park crowd during every at-bat. The Rays rookie drew a sarcastic cheer after catching an easy fly ball in the fifth, but he had no real problems in the field.
Not so for the rest of the Rays. They committed two errors — a throwing error by second baseman Ben Zobrist and one by catcher Jose Molina in the first, when Ellsbury stole second and took third on the throw.
It was that kind of night for Ellsbury, who missed most of September with a broken right foot. After hitting a single and scoring in the first, he reached on a bloop double behind the third baseman in the third to drive in a run, moved up on Shane Victorino’s single and scored on Pedroia’s grounder.
He also singled to lead off the fifth and scored on Pedroia’s double.
Tampa Bay made it 6-4 on Yuniel Escobar’s single, but Ortiz gave Boston back its cushion with a high fly ball that sailed over the right field foul pole that sits just 302 feet from home plate. Escobar, James Loney and Desmond Jennings each had two hits for Tampa Bay.
Boston won 12-2 in the opener when every starter got a hit and scored a run. In Game 2, every Red Sox starter got a hit except Mike Napoli, who drew two walks.