MINNEAPOLIS — Even after all these years, David Ortiz is still tormenting the Minnesota Twins.
Whether it was launching a home run nearly 440 feet into the stands in right-center field or barreling down the third base line to strike fear into catcher Joe Mauer, the Boston Red Sox slugger put his finger prints all over his latest victory over his former team.
Ortiz had four hits and three RBIs and delivered the go-ahead single with two outs in the ninth inning to lift the Red Sox to an 8-6 victory over the Twins on Monday night.
“I’ve been gone for years already,” Ortiz said, insisting there’s no hard feelings about being let go. “In this business, sometimes you’re right and sometimes you’re wrong. One thing I would say about the Twins organization is I always thank them for giving me the opportunity to come play at this level.”
Ortiz hit a two-run homer in the sixth and finished a triple shy of the cycle. Jarrod Saltalamacchia added a homer and two RBIs to help the Red Sox win for the fifth time in seven games and move 1½ games ahead of the idle Yankees in the AL East.
Ortiz debuted with the Twins in 1997, but injuries prevented him from realizing his full potential, so the Twins let him leave after 2002. It wasn’t until he arrived in Boston in 2003 that he blossomed, becoming “Big Papi,” one of the most feared hitters in the game.
He’s been making the Twins pay ever since. In 42 career games against them, Ortiz is hitting .327 with 11 homers and 31 RBIs.
“Of course you get a little excited when you play the team you’ve played for before,” Ortiz said. “But you go with the same intensity against everybody.”
Marco Scutaro chipped in three hits for Boston and Jonathan Papelbon worked a perfect ninth for his 25th save.
Jason Kubel had a homer among his three hits and two RBIs for the Twins, who have lost five straight.
Alfredo Aceves (8-1) gave up one run in an inning in relief of Tim Wakefield for the victory. Wakefield gave up five runs — three earned — and eight hits with five strikeouts. But he missed out on victory No. 200 for the third straight start when Aceves gave up the game-tying single to Kubel in the eighth.
“The last three starts, we’ve won two out of three of them,” Wakefield said. “So that’s the most important thing is keeping our lead in the American League East right now.”
Glen Perkins (3-2) gave up two runs — one earned — in 1 2-3 innings to take the loss. He left with the game tied and a runner on second, but Joe Nathan gave up a single to Ortiz and an RBI-double to Saltalamacchia to let the game slip away.
Scott Baker gave up five runs and nine hits with five strikeouts in six innings for the Twins.
The Twins scored just four runs — and committed five errors — in a weekend sweep at the hands of the Chicago White Sox, a series so ugly that manager Ron Gardenhire said his team “didn’t play worth a flip.”
They showed more fight on Monday, but it wasn’t enough against the best team in the AL.
“You know you’re going to have those battles with a lineup like that,” Gardenhire said. “And unfortunately we couldn’t finish them off.”
After a four-hour, 15-minute grinder against the Yankees on Sunday night, the Red Sox didn’t arrive at their Minneapolis hotel until just before 5 a.m. Their legs looked a little heavy and their bats a little slow in the early going as they tried to shake the cobwebs for yet another nationally televised game.
The Twins scored three times in the second and Kubel led off the fourth with a homer to give the Twins a 4-1 lead.
A considerable contingent of Red Sox fans started with the chants of “Let’s go Red Sox!” in the sixth, and it appeared to wake up their team. Carl Crawford led off with a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly from Adrian Gonzalez. Ortiz hit a two-run homer and Saltalamacchia made it back-to-back with a solo shot that tied it 5-5.
Jed Lowrie had one hit in his first game since June 16, when he went on the disabled list with a strained left shoulder.
In the eighth, Ortiz lumbered down the third baseline, and Mauer may have taken his eyes off shortstop Matt Tolbert’s throw because it skipped off the tip of his glove and allowed Ortiz to score.
“He heard the big elephant coming,” Ortiz said with a hearty laugh. “He was shaking when I was coming.”
NOTES: Twins SS Tsuyoshi Nishioka had the day off to be with his wife for the birth of the couple’s first child. Baby girl Sena was born at 8:26 a.m. and weighed in at 6 pounds, 9 ounces. … Twins GM Bill Smith said minor league RHPs Kyle Gibson and Anthony Slama met with team doctors to discuss their elbow injuries. Both will undergo further tests on Tuesday before a determination is made. … Boston manager Terry Francona gave 3B Kevin Youkilis the day off. 2B Dustin Pedroia hit in the cleanup spot. The Red Sox were 3-0 in his only other three games there this season. … The homers by Ortiz and Saltalamacchia were the sixth back-to-back set for the Red Sox this season. … LHP Francisco Liriano (7-9, 5.03 ERA) will take the mound for the Twins in Game 2 on Tuesday against LHP Erik Bedard (4-7, 3.55). … It will be Bedard’s second start for the Red Sox since coming in a trade from Seattle. He gave up three runs and seven hits with five strikeouts in five innings of a no-decision against Cleveland on Aug. 4. … Liriano has been wildly inconsistent all season and is coming off one of his worst starts of the year when he gave up seven runs and 10 hits in five innings in a loss to the Angels.