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INDIANS 4, RED SOX 3

With the end of the season comes the end of the David Ortiz era

An emotional David Ortiz saluted the fans after Monday’s loss. It was Ortiz’s last major-league game.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

The season ended for the Red Sox on Monday night, their championship aspirations turned to dust when the Cleveland Indians completed a three-game sweep of the American League Division Series.

The 4-3 loss was much like the two before it in that the Red Sox were never able to get their high-powered offense going. They led for one inning in the entire series and never scored more than one run in any inning.

The Sox were frustrated right to the end, leaving two runners on base in the ninth inning when Travis Shaw popped up to right field. It was a feeble conclusion to what was an otherwise productive and hopeful season after consecutive last-place finishes.

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Then came a moment that perhaps will better define the season.

The crowd of 39,530, the largest at Fenway Park since at least 1945, stayed in place as the Indians celebrated.

“Papi, Papi,” they chanted. Then it turned, as though by unanimous vote, to “We Want David.”

When Ted Williams played his final game on Sept. 28, 1960, he homered in the eighth inning and was replaced in the top of the ninth. The crowd beseeched him to somehow acknowledge their cheers but he never did.

“Gods do not answer letters,” John Updike famously wrote about that day for The New Yorker.

But David Ortiz did. After the Indians withdrew to the visitors’ clubhouse for champagne and revelry, Ortiz emerged from the dugout. With tears in his eyes, he stood on the mound and tipped his cap to the crowd.

David Ortiz salutes the fans after the loss.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

It was his final act as a player after 20 seasons, three championships, and 541 home runs.

“When I walked to the mound, I realized that it was over,” Ortiz said. “It was pretty much probably the last time as a player to walk in front of a crowd. And the emotion came back out again.

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“I definitely always want to show love to the fans. . . . No disrespect to anyone, but I think we have the best fans worldwide. It’s something that — it kind of hit me a little bit.”

In the clubhouse, the players reacted much like the crowd did.

“That was the first time I’ve cried after a game since Little League,” Clay Buchholz said.

Ortiz was 0 for 1 with two walks and a sacrifice fly. When he drew a walk in the eighth inning, he stood on first and urged the crowd to cheer louder.

Like a conductor at the Boston Pops, his motions bought forth a wall of sound.

“I’ve never seen anything like that before,” veteran Brad Ziegler said. “The entire crowd was watching him.”

The roar grew louder when Hanley Ramirez drove a single into left field to get the Red Sox to within a run. But that was as close as the Sox would get.

David Ortiz was replaced by pinch-runner Marco Hernandez in the eighth inning.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

They scored only seven runs in the series and hit .214. In all, the Red Sox lost eight of their last nine games.

“We just never got into a rhythm,” said Dustin Pedroia, now the longest-tenured member of the team. “It was grind the whole time.”

The Indians, who outplayed the Red Sox in all aspects of the game, advanced to the AL Championship Series against the Toronto Blue Jays. Game 1 is Friday at Cleveland. Terry Francona’s Indians are in the ALCS for the first time since 2007.

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“That’s a good team,” Pedroia said. “They deserved it.”

Buchholz allowed four hits over the first three innings but held the Indians scoreless. He finally cracked in the fourth inning.

Jose Ramirez singled and Lonnie Chisenhall walked to start the inning.

Coco Crisp dropped down a sacrifice bunt that paid off when rookie Tyler Naquin singled to right field to plate two.

Red Sox starters pitched only 11⅔ innings in the series, giving up 12 runs on 18 hits. Buchholz was the best of the bunch, giving up two runs over four innings.

Drew Pomeranz started the fifth inning and retired the side in order, striking out two. Then the Indians struck again.

Jose Ramirez walked and Chisenhall bunted him along. But this time Crisp homered to left field and the Indians had a 4-1 lead.

Crisp, who earned a World Series ring with the 2007 Red Sox, was acquired by the Indians on Aug. 31. That one swing made the deal a good one.

The Red Sox bullpen was perfect from there, giving their teammates a chance.

Indians starter Josh Tomlin retired 12 of the first 14 Red Sox batters and took a 2-0 lead into the fifth inning. He was right around 90 miles per hour with his fastball but the Red Sox took pitch after pitch in the strike zone.

Xander Bogaerts singled to center field with one out and scored when Andrew Benintendi doubled off the wall in left. Bogaerts read the ball perfectly and scored with a headfirst slide across the plate.

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With Benintendi on second, Sandy Leon struck out and Jackie Bradley Jr. grounded to first.

With a 4-1 lead, Tomlin allowed a leadoff single by Pedroia in the sixth inning. That was enough for Francona, who went to Andrew Miller.

Pinch hitter Aaron Hill struck out but Mookie Betts doubled high off the wall, sending Pedroia to third. Ortiz was next and he was able to line a slider to center field for a sacrifice fly.

Ortiz thought he had a single and slapped his hands together as the ball was caught.

Hanley Ramirez was next and Miller struck him out on five pitches. Ramirez swung and missed at three sliders.

Miller came back out for the seventh inning. With one out, manager John Farrell pinch hit Chris Young for Benintendi. The rookie was 3 for 9 in the series.

Young walked. Leon, batting righthanded, battled Miller but lined out to third. Bradley, a lefty hitter, remained in the game and Miller struck him out on three pitches. Young may have been a better choice there.

“If we wait to get to Jackie in that inning, we may never get there,” Farrell said.

Ortiz came up in the eighth with a runner on and Cody Allen walked him on four pitches. When Ortiz got to second base, he was run for.

“I would have liked to see what he would have done with a strike,” Betts said.

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So did many others. Ultimately they settled for a tip of the cap.

“Once I got out of the game I was screaming at my team to put me back in it,” Ortiz said “Make me wear this uniform one more day. Because I wasn’t ready for it to be over.”

Video: Dan Shaughnessy reflects on David Ortiz’s career


Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.