The Red Sox designated hitter, spinning his wheels in a 2-for-13 funk over three games, didn't need a mammoth homer to make a difference. Instead, Ortiz fought off an offspeed pitch and plunked a unsightly single to start a five-game road trip off on a winning note and extend the Orioles' losing streak to three games.
"Man, I need those bloopers," Ortiz joked. "[Walker] pretty much threw everything. We just tried to stay right on and got a bloop. But he made a lot of good pitches."
Said Francona: "The deeper he got into the count, it looked like the more dangerous he got. And he didn't crush that, but he stayed on it enough to find some outfield grass."
Ortiz's looping drive to short left-center was a long time in coming. After getting behind 0-2 to a couple of Walker changeups, Ortiz worked the count back to 3-2, fouling off one two-strike pitch in the process. Four more foul balls followed before Ortiz looped the ball into no-man's land between shortstop Miguel Tejada and onrushing left fielder Jay Payton.
"I'm the kind of hitter where I get better where I go deep in the count," Ortiz said. "As a hitter you have to make an adjustment, and that's what I do when I go deep in the count."
Ortiz spoiled a lefty-on-lefty matchup against Walker, the first pitcher to sign in the Orioles' $42 million bullpen makeover. And as the at-bat wore on, the feeling on the Boston bench was that the advantage was tilting in Ortiz's favor.
"Good at-bat by David, great at-bat," Francona said. "As the count got deeper, he ended up getting a couple of balls to hit. ... That's not a lucky hit. That's staying on a tough lefty."
Walker didn't want to walk Oritz to load the bases for Ramirez.
"I'm never happy when I give up a hit. I'm pretty much a hornet," Walker said. "I went after him, and the last thing I wanted to do was walk him to load the bases. You can't walk these guys -- every one of them can go yard. I just went right after him, being aggressive, and I know he's aggressive."
Locked in a pitchers' duel with Baltimore's Daniel Cabrera, Red Sox starter Curt Schilling saw the decisive hit coming.
"There were a couple of pitches before that that he fouled off that might have been off the warehouse," said Schilling. "Good at-bat -- he battled and battled and battled. It couldn't have been that bad a pitch, the way that he hit it."
Walker relieved Cabrera (1-2) with two outs in the seventh after the right-hander walked Wily Mo Pena and Kevin Youkilis. After Ortiz's single, Bradford replaced Walker and gave up a run-scoring liner to center by Ramirez before walking J.D. Drew to load the bases and Lowell to force in a run.
Francona praised the Red Sox for "a professional inning," coming just after Tejada had tied the game at 1 with a solo homer off Schilling in the Baltimore sixth.
Other than Tejada's homer, Schilling kept the Orioles in check, averting Boston's first three-game losing streak of the season.
"He had to be good, because of the way Cabrera was throwing," Francona said. "Cabrera was throwing a masterpiece himself, and Schill pretty much matched him pitch for pitch."
Schilling takes pride in being the kind of pitcher that can halt a losing streak.
"When you're in a rotation like this, what you do not expect to see are losing streaks. Somebody, everybody in this rotation is going to stop one. Tonight it happened to be on me," Schilling said.
Alex Cora put the Red Sox ahead, 1-0, in the third, ripping a Cabrera curveball into the right-field stands for his first homer of the year. With two hits Wednesday, Cora improved to 11-for-18 lifetime against Cabrera (1-2).
Schilling nursed the lead until the sixth, when Tejada homered to left off a 2-0 pitch. Schilling (3-1) went seven innings, giving up a run on five hits, walking two and striking out three.
"I'm not that 96 [mph] guy anymore," Schilling said. "But I can be effective and I can get outs and I can go deep in games, and I can finish games just as easily with the stuff I'm throwing out there now. ... It's making adjustments."
Following the three-run seventh, Boston added some insurance with a two-run ninth against Jim Johnson, who was making his season debut. A sacrifice fly from Ramirez and an RBI single from Lowell made it 6-1. Lowell extended his hitting streak to 11 games in his final at-bat.
"Their bullpen is a lot deeper than last it was last year," Francona said. "We did a good job against a good bullpen tonight."