ARLINGTON, Texas — Big Papi is back in the Boston lineup, and the Red Sox are back in first place.
David Ortiz had an RBI single on the first pitch he saw in 10 days and scored twice in his return as the Red Sox had another convincing victory over the AL West-leading Texas Rangers, 13-2 on Wednesday night.
“I felt normal. Everything was good,” Ortiz said. “Early in the season we didn’t do well against nobody. But we’ve got a good team that knows how to compete.”
Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury and Adrian Gonzalez hit two-run homers in consecutive innings for Boston (79-50), which moved one game ahead of New York after the Yankees lost 6-4 in 10 innings to Oakland.
With 33 games left, the Red Sox aren’t yet too concerned with the standings.
“I think there’s more significance to what food’s being served in there tonight,” manager Terry Francona said, motioning toward the clubhouse.
Just like they did in their 11-5 victory a night earlier, the Red Sox jumped to a quick 6-0 lead.
The first of Dustin Pedroia’s two RBI singles off Matt Harrison (10-9) put Boston ahead to stay in the first. Ortiz immediately followed with his run-scoring hit and then scored from first base on Crawford’s two-run double into the right-field corner even though the relay throw beat him to the plate.
It appeared that Mike Napoli had the one-hop relay in his mitt, but the ball came out when the catcher swiped to tag Ortiz and the Red Sox led 4-0.
Ortiz had missed nine games because of bursitis in his right heel. The injury certainly seemed to be healed the way he was moving around the bases.
After Ortiz had a leadoff double in the fifth, Jed Lowrie had a sacrifice bunt and Crawford a sacrifice fly. Ortiz lumbered home and clipped the back of Napoli’s leg with his flop slide just ahead of the throw.
“That was a good test,” said Francona, who had a big smile on his face when he greeted Ortiz on the top step of the dugout.
“He was moving today pretty good. Nothing wrong with his heel, he’s been faking it,” Texas manager Ron Washington said before chuckling.
In his first game since Aug. 14, Ortiz extended his hitting streak to eight games — he is hitting .484 (15 of 31) in that span. Crawford matched his career high with five RBIs.
Josh Beckett (11-5) allowed one run and four hits over six innings and showed some quick reflexes to make a defensive gem by catching a comeback liner.
Napoli homered and had an RBI single for the Rangers, who have lost five of seven.
Ellsbury played his second game since missing three straight after being hit in the back with a pitch.
Like he did in his return Tuesday night, when he led off the game with a single, stolen base and a run scored, Ellsbury got the Red Sox off to another strong start. He led off Wednesday’s game with an infield single, moved up on a one-out hit by Gonzalez and scored on Pedroia’s first single.
An inning later, Pedroia put the Red Sox up 5-0 when he again drove in Ellsbury, who was in scoring position after a single and a stolen base.
“He’s been doing that all year. That’s why he’s so important to what we do,” Francona said of Ellsbury. “We gave him a couple days, didn’t rush him back. He impacts the game all over the place.”
Marco Scutaro had an RBI double in the fourth. Ellsbury hit his 23rd homer in the sixth for a 9-1 lead before Crawford’s ninth homer in the seventh and Gonzalez’s 21st an inning later.
Beckett struck out four and walked two while throwing 110 pitches. The right-hander allowed 13 earned runs in 12 innings his previous two starts against Texas, both last season.
When Ian Kinsler hit a hard liner up the middle in the fifth, Beckett turned his head and put up his glove.
“That ball caught me, I didn’t catch it,” Beckett said.
Harrison gave up seven runs and 11 hits over five innings with four strikeouts and one walk. The lefthander still has a 3.59 ERA this season, but that has risen from 2.94 in August, when he is 1-2 his five starts.
“They just put some hits together, that’s all,” Washington said. “You’ve got to match their pitching and if you don’t match their pitching, the game can get away. And it got away from us.”
Notes: It was 104 degrees at first pitch, just before a front moved through that produced swirling winds and significantly dropped the temperature. It was already down to 92 degrees after the Red Sox scored their first four runs, and was 88 at the end of the first inning that took 32 minutes to play. … Left-hander Andrew Miller (5-1) starts the finale for the Red Sox, who pushed Tim Wa kefield back a day. The knucklerballer’s sixth chance at his 200th victory will come at home Friday night against Oakland. … Alexi Ogando tries to become the Rangers’ second 13-game winner, joini ng C.J. Wilson, who won the series opener against Boston. … With Hurricane Irene moving up the East Coast, Francona said there is the possibility of a doubleheader Saturday against Oakland if the weather will be bad Sunday because of the storm.