It was an exceedingly drawn-out game between two last-place teams. But most of the sellout crowd at Fenway Park stayed around until the bottom of the eighth inning on Saturday night, eager to see what David Ortiz would do next.
Ortiz had already hit two home runs as he came to the plate with the bases loaded and one out.
“Always,” he said when asked if he was trying to hit another. “I’m always thinking about hitting homers.”
With the fans standing and cheering, Ortiz lashed a double to left field to drive in two more runs.
With Ortiz supplying the power, the Red Sox rallied for a 10-7 victory against the Houston Astros.
The two home runs gave Ortiz 401 as a member of the Red Sox. Only Hall of Famers Ted Williams (521) and Carl Yastrzemski (452) have had more.
“It’s an honor,” Ortiz said. “You never expect your name to be mentioned with those guys.”
Ortiz is the 25th player to hit 400 home runs for one team. The only other active player to have done that is Paul Konerko, who has 432 for the White Sox.
His 459 career homers matched Adam Dunn of the White Sox for 35th in history. The three extra-base hits gave Ortiz 1,020 extra-base hits, 30th all time.
“He’s a game-changer,” teammate Jackie Bradley Jr. said. “Every time he comes to the plate you’re expecting something to happen for us. He just keeps doing it.”
The six runs batted in matched a career high for Ortiz. When he came out for a pinch runner after the double, the fans chanted “Ortiz! Ortiz!” until he tipped his helmet.
“It’s an honor see him play, a special thing, and an even greater pleasure to share the locker room with him,” Yoenis Cespedes said. “I feel very proud to be here.”
The 10 runs were the most for the Red Sox at Fenway since June 13. They have won five of six.
Ortiz has driven in 91 of the 474 runs the Sox have scored this season, just shy of 20 percent. For a team that has had trouble scoring, he is a constant.
“Whether there’s been different guys around him, it seemingly hasn’t affected the overall power and production,” manager John Farrell said. “That’s a testament to him, at times, being a little bit more aggressive knowing he’s got to drive the ball in some situations when in the past he’s part of building an inning.”
Said Ortiz: “Pride. You need to have pride in what you do. You have to make sure you play your best. The fans come to watch you play and you have to give them what they expect.”
The Sox came back from a 5-1 deficit, getting five strong innings out of the bullpen. Alex Wilson (1-0) was the winner. Daniel Nava helped fuel a 13-hit attack by going 3 for 4 with a double and two RBIs.
Rubby De La Rosa had a 1.97 earned run average in five starts at Fenway Park this season and Farrell spoke before the game about how the righthander had flourished at home.
“More than anything he’s pitched with a lot of confidence,” Farrell said.
Over four innings on Saturday, De La Rosa threw 89 pitches, put 13 men on base, and allowed six runs. It matched his shortest start of the season.
De La Rosa walked the game’s first hitter, Robbie Grossman, before singles by Chris Carter and Dexter Fowler made it 1-0. De La Rosa walked Jason Castro to load the bases and Carter scored when Jon Singleton grounded out.
Marwin Gonzalez singled to lead off the second inning for Houston. Grossman walked and Jose Altuve singled to load the bases. Carter’s sacrifice fly made 3-0.
With two outs and a runner on first base in the third inning, De La Rosa allowed another single by Gonzalez. No. 9 hitter Gregorio Petit followed with a two-run double into the corner in left field.
Farrell tried to squeeze another inning out De La Rosa and it didn’t work out as Carter hit a long home run to left-center, his 29th.
De La Rosa left the game trailing, 6-3. But he didn’t stay on the hook for long as Astros starter Brad Peacock also had a rough night. He allowed six runs (five earned) on seven hits over 4⅓ innings.
Nava had an RBI double in the second inning, driving in Mike Napoli from first base with a shot to the gap in left field.
With the Sox down, 5-1, Dustin Pedroia led off the third inning with a single and scored when Ortiz hit his first home run. He belted a changeup to straightaway center that landed in the first row of the bleachers.
Ortiz was not done. Brock Holt extended his hit streak to 10 games with a single in the fifth inning. Ortiz then lined a 3-and-2 slider just around the Pesky Pole.
Cespedes followed with a pop to the right side of the mound. Singleton, the first baseman, let the ball deflect off his glove for a two-base error.
Righthander Josh Fields replaced Peacock and let the lead get away.
An aggressive Cespedes stole third before Napoli walked. Nava’s single to left field tied the game. Xander Bogaerts walked to load the bases before Bradley belted a fastball to deep center for a sacrifice fly that gave the Red Sox a 7-6 lead.
Wilson retired all seven Astros he faced in relief of De La Rosa, getting a sloppy game under control. In a non-save situation, Koji Uehara allowed a home run by Castro in the ninth inning. It was the first run he allowed since July 10.