"It's a win," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "It's what we set out to do. It didn't start out looking real great, down 8-1 is not really the formula, but I don't think we abandoned our approach, which is easy to do when you're down a bunch."
The biggest at-bat of the pivotal sixth came when Kevin Youkilis drilled a bases-clearing triple to center, snapping a 9-9 deadlock. The hit came just after Drew walked to load the bases.
"We didn't give at-bats away and I thought J.D.'s at-bat, first and second and worked a walk, had some good swings and taking ball four, set it up for Youk, who had a huge at-bat," Francona added.
Pedroia led off the sixth with a solo homer to the Monster seats, tying the game, 9-9.
"We made them go to the bullpen and we made them continue to go to the bullpen and kept pressure on them the whole time," Francona said.
"It was early in the game," added Julio Lugo, who had two hits and two RBIs. "It was early when they scored. We knew we had a chance. Once we scored a couple of runs, we knew we were right back in it."
Ortiz added his 29th homer of the season, a towering shot to the Red Sox bullpen leading off the seventh inning, tying Don Baylor for fourth on the all-time list for homers by a designated hitter with 218.
"We had a lot of guys swinging the bat pretty well and we never give up on the game and that was the difference," Ortiz said. "Everybody kind of put it together. Everybody got on base. We had guys come through with base hits."
"To be down, 8-1, we could have just quit and played the rest of the game," said Ellsbury, who extended his hitting streak to 11 games with his third-inning homer to right. "But the way we came back was fun."
One out after Ortiz's homer, Drew capped his big night with a solo shot to straightaway center, his first long ball at Fenway since April 22. The tater also allowed Boston to set a new season high for runs, previously scoring 15 against Tampa Bay on July 5.
Wakefield lasted just three-plus innings, allowing 10 hits and seven earned runs. It was his second start back after a sore back forced him to miss a turn, and for the first time since April 1999, the knuckleballer was unable to register at least four innings in consecutive starts.
"I had enough time to get prepared for tonight," Wakefield said. "I left the bullpen feeling good, and I had good stuff. I got through the first inning and then the wheels kind of fell off for me there in the second. I have no excuses. I just didn't make good enough pitches when I needed to."
Wakefield entered the game with a career 19-2 mark against Tampa Bay, including 4-0 this season.
"He has had a lot of success against that team," catcher Kevin Cash said. "They obviously have a great offense and they probably made some adjustments, laid off some pitches they hadn't in the past."
It was Cash who helped jump start the Red Sox's offense in a four-run fourth with a two-run single to right off Rays starter Andy Sonnanstine, who could not protect his seven-run lead.
"It was exciting and fun to be a part of, not that this was a must-win game, but it was a big game for us to win and we got down early and it's nice that it came early because it gave us some time to get some momentum and come back," Cash said.
Bryan Corey (1-0) earned the win, coming on in the sixth to strike out a batter before getting Delmon Young to ground into an inning-ending double play.
"I feel like I'm contributing to something special here," said Corey. "They've had a phenomenal year here, and I'm just happy I'm part of it right now. I just want to help out and I don't want to screw it up."
Jon Switzer (0-1) allowed two hits and two runs while retiring just one batter in the sixth and took the loss.
Eric Gagne allowed two hits and a run in the ninth, his first inning of work since a sore right shoulder sidelined him on Aug. 26.