LBig Papi Ortiz Stars in 3rd Sox Win vs. Bays
The Boston Red Sox won their third straight game against the Tampa Bay Rays, 6-4, on Sunday at Fenway Park in Boston where designated hitter David “Big Papi” Ortiz doubled, singled and doubled in his first three at-bats before grounding out to first to end the seventh.
Boston (4-5) can sweep the four-game set against Tampa Bay and reach .500 with another win Monday on the traditional Patriots' Day game. Either way, the first third of a nine-game homestand appears to have set the Sox back on course. Ortiz went 4 for 5 with a homer and five RBIs in Saturday's 13-5 win by the Sox over the Rays.
Ortiz, batting .444, hit safely in seven consecutive plate appearances from Saturday to Sunday, the third time he's had a stretch like that in his career. All three of his hits Sunday came against Rays southpaw Matt Moore, and the last was a line-drive double off the center-field wall that gave Boston a 5-4 lead with one out in the sixth. Kevin Youkilis, who walked one batter earlier, scored from first base.
Two years ago, Ortiz had trouble going against southpaws to the tune of a .222 average in 2010. Last year, that clip jumped to .329, in fact, better than he did against right-handers. Now, he's teeing up lefties just as well. Said he, "There are going to be tough lefties that are going to get you out. There's going to be lefties that don't give you pitches to hit. The other day we were facing (Toronto's) Ricky Romero, and it was tough. He didn't really leave a pitch over the plate you could drive. Everything was either out, in, up or down. There wasn't anything that you could really drive. They're going to pitch you tough, but whenever you get a chance to hit a ball over the plate, you have to. You're not going to see it much."
The Red Sox's bullpen while still far from settled, looked sharp while closing out Sunday's victory. Vicente Padilla earned the win with 1 2/3 innings of one-hit ball, and Franklin Morales pitched a scoreless eighth ahead of Alfredo Aceves' 1-2-3 ninth inning. The help was everywhere offensively for starter Felix Doubront, who went five-plus innings and let up Tampa Bay's four runs. Mike Aviles and Cody Ross both homered for the second straight day for Boston, with Ross in two straight plate appearances.
Ross got things started in the second with a three-run shot, again over the left field wall, just as his swing was tailor made for. That opened the scoring. Kelly Shoppach's RBI double in the fourth made it 4-0, padding the Sox needed ahead of the Rays' rally. Carlos Pena's double was just out of the reach of a diving Jason Repko in center field and plated two runs for Tampa Bay in the fifth. Evan Longoria followed one batter later with a ground-rule double that Ross misplayed in right field and saw go over his head, cutting the lead to 4-3. Tampa Bay's Luke Scott tied the game with a solo shot to start the sixth. That was all for Doubront, who struck out seven and walked one, but he was still less than efficient, throwing 96 pitches, 60 for strikes.
Sox hitting coach was pleased with his team. Said he, "It's gratifying to see guys, after the tough trip, to come in against the caliber of pitching that we're facing here against the Rays. Our bats have been great. We've forced them in the strike zone, and when we do get a good pitch to hit, we're putting it in play hard."
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