Papi delivers again in the clutch

Papi delivers again in the clutch

TORONTO -- Any lingering tightness in David Ortiz's back might have been temporarily loosened up against the Blue Jays on Monday.

Ortiz sat out against the Yankees on Sunday in the Bronx to rest a nagging back pain. The day off paid great dividends for the Red Sox.

After Boston let a five-run lead slip away, Ortiz uncoiled on a fastball from Toronto reliever Pete Walker and sent it to the stands in deep center field for his second homer of the night. The shot lifted Boston to a 6-5 victory over the Blue Jays in 11 innings at the Rogers Centre.

"He's unbelievable," Boston manager Terry Francona said. "On a night like tonight, when you're on the road, you've given up the lead, and you find a way to win? It's enormous."

The victory extended Boston's lead to 3 1/2 games over the Yankees, who were idle on Monday.

With the extra-inning blast, Ortiz became the fourth Major Leaguer to reach 40 home runs this year and the first Boston slugger with back-to-back 40-homer seasons since Carl Yastrzemski accomplished the feat in 1969-70.

"Its the 11th inning, man. You've got to bring your 'A' game, like I always say," Ortiz said. "I just wanted to have a good at-bat -- put a good swing on the ball and let things happen. If you go up there thinking about home runs, you're going to swing at those pitches in the dirt."

Toronto starter Ted Lilly got Ortiz to do exactly that in his first at-bat, which resulted in a strikeout. Two innings later, though, Ortiz gave the Red Sox (84-59) an early one-run lead when he hit a solo shot off the left-hander. That homer traveled 427 feet and ricocheted off the scoreboard just below the Hard Rock Cafe on the third level of the Rogers Centre.

"Lilly is the kind of guy that you can't really see the ball coming out of his hands," Ortiz said. "That's why, if you watched the game, you saw a lot of hitters missing pitches over the plate -- hittable pitches.

"Whenever he makes a mistake, you've got to try to not miss that pitch, because you might not see it again."

Ortiz met with team trainers before the game and was back in his customary No. 3 hole, serving as the designated hitter in front of Manny Ramirez. After taking a one-day hiatus, the duo was back in full force.

After Ortiz singled off Lilly with two outs in the sixth, Ramirez crushed his 35th homer, 440 feet to the top windows of the restaurant in straight-away center field.

"You watch Ortiz the last couple years -- there's not a more clutch player out there," said Toronto manager John Gibbons. "I don't care who you're talking about. Of course, the guy behind him ain't bad either."

Red Sox starter Bronson Arroyo pitched six scoreless innings before Toronto (71-72) broke through in the seventh. Arroyo walked two and gave up a single to load the bases before being pulled in favor of reliever Keith Foulke. Foulke gave up an RBI single to Gabe Gross and a sacrifice fly to Russ Adams before Francona called upon Mike Timlin to face the right-handed-hitting Vernon Wells.

Timlin entered the series opener with the Blue Jays sporting a 1.80 ERA against righties, and Wells had just two hits in 14 career at-bats against Timlin. With two on, two outs and the Red Sox clinging to a three-run lead in the seventh inning, the move backfired. Wells crushed the third pitch he saw off the facing of the second deck to tie the game at 5.

"[All of the relievers] want to pitch with the game on the line and, to me, the game was on the line right there," Francona said. "It didn't work, but it'll work out way more than it doesn't. Because [Timlin is] good."

After Boston's five-run cushion disappeared and the game dwindled on, Jonathan Papelbon came in from the 'pen in the ninth. The right-handed rookie pitched three scoreless innings and didn't allow a hit to pick up his first Major League win.

"The first time in the big leagues and he pitches like he's been around forever," Ortiz said. "He reminds me of Roger Clemens with the attitude, the arm. Let me tell you, when that kid gets more experience, he's going to be filthy."

Papelbon was just thankful that Ortiz came through once again in the clutch.

"To get that first one is exciting and surreal, and all these different emotions that I'm feeling right now," Papelbon said. "It's just great to be on a team like this, where you know that no game is ever out of reach."

Jordan Bastian is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.