BOSTON — David Ortiz was surprised to see Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington make a percentage move by intentionally walking Dustin Pedroia to set up a lefty-lefty matchup.
The Boston Red Sox designated hitter with a flair for the dramatic quickly made the move backfire on the Rangers.
“Not at all. No,” Ortiz said when asked if he expected Dustin Pedroia to be passed with first base open. “You don’t wake up the monster like that.”
“The monster” drilled the first pitch from Michael Kirkman into the visitors’ bullpen to give the Red Sox a 6-3 victory and a 2-1 series win over Texas in the battle of teams with the American League’s two best records.
For Ortiz, it was the 11th walk-off homer of his career, the 10th with Boston. It was his 19th regular-season walk-off hit, tops among active players, 16 with Boston. However, he hadn’t had a walk-off hit since July 31, 2010, nor a walk-off homer since Aug. 26, 2009.
“They don’t like to mess with Papi late in the game,” Ortiz said, referring to himself by his nickname. “They stopped doing that. I think it might be the first time I got a pitch late in the game. In that kind of situation, pretty much most of the time it’s either a walk or something else happens.
“I just keep my patience.”
Washington made it clear he wasn’t second-guessing himself.
“You got a runner on second base, you got Dustin coming up, (left) against left there,” he said. “Figure we could coax Ortiz into hitting a ground ball, and instead he hit a line drive over the fence.
“That was the best move to make right there. It’s not the first left-hander Big Papi got, but that was the right move to make right there. It was the only move to make. I can live with Papi doing that, but if I would have (pitched to) Pedroia and he’d have won the game, I couldn’t live with that.”
Kirkman (0-2) threw only two actual pitches in the inning. Jonny Gomes hit the first for a double, his fourth hit of a night that also saw him flash some defense. After the four intentional balls to Pedroia, who had a two-run double in the third inning but an otherwise-tough night, Ortiz hit his 11th homer of the season (in 41 games).
“Inside fastball right where I wanted it,” Kirkman said. “I faced him the other day, had some success (a strikeout), but apparently he was just sitting on that pitch. I thought it was a really good pitch. Movement inside, right where I wanted it, and he just got the barrel to it.”
The win, Boston’s fourth in the past five games, allowed the first-place Red Sox (37-24) to matching their season high at 13 games over .500.
Closer Andrew Bailey (2-0) got the win.
Boston tied it in the seventh when the Rangers failed to turn a double play with the bases loaded. Ex-Ranger Mike Napoli picked up his 47th RBI of the season (he had 56 all of last year). The tying run scored because first baseman Lance Berkman, handling a tough hop, bounced a throw to second, slowing things down.
Boston’s Jon Lester (200th career start), worked the first six innings and left on the hook for the loss. He remains winless in four starts.
Texas lefty Derek Holland, 4-0 with two no-decisions in his last six starts and on a five-game winning streak against Boston, also pitched six innings, leaving with the lead.
Jeff Baker (No. 7) and Adrian Beltre (No. 13, one of his three hits) homered for Texas.
Jacoby Ellsbury, back after missing five games with groin tightness, had four of the Red Sox’s 13 hits. Eight of the hits came from the top two spots in the lineup.
Some nifty defense by Gomes helped Lester stay close through the early innings.
The Rangers already led 2-0 on Baker’s second homer of the series in the second when Berkman led off the third with a ball off the wall in left. Gomes bobbled the carom but threw out the slow-footed Berkman at second. The out became significant when Beltre followed with his second hit of the game.
Pedroia’s long double (extending his hitting streak to 10 games) brought the Sox back in the bottom of the inning.
With one out and a man on in the fourth, Jurickson Profar hit a drive to left-center that Gomes ran down and gloved as he fell into the wall. Elvis Andrus singled, and Gomes then handled David Murphy’s liner to left to end the inning.
NOTES: Berkman, the DH playing first with Mitch Moreland hurt, is in 2-for-20, 6-for-35 slump … The Rangers placed Moreland (hamstring) on the 15-day disabled list and purchased the contract of 1B Chris McGuiness from Triple-A Round Rock. RHP Colby Lewis was moved from the 15- to the 60-day DL to make room for McGuiness, a former Red Sox prospect, on the 40-man roster. … Jason Collins, the former Celtic who recently became the first active player in pro team sports to declare his homosexuality, threw out the first pitch before the game. “We respect his courage, we respect his choices, and this is an opportunity to showcase that,” said Boston manager John Farrell, who caught the pitch. … LHP Felix Doubront opens Boston’s rain-threatened three-game series with the Loa Angeles Angels on Friday night, facing RHP Tommy Hanson. Rookie RHP Nick Tepesch opens the Rangers’ three-game series at Toronto, against RHP Esmil Rogers. … The Red Sox, with the seventh pick in the draft thanks to losing 93 games last year, tabbed LHP/OF Trey Ball of New Castle, Ind., a lanky hard thrower who has committed to the University of Texas. The Rangers took RHP Alex Gonzalez of Oral Roberts University with the 23rd pick. The college junior is 21 and is projected to advance quickly.
Orioles 3, Astros 1: Baltimore right-hander Miguel Gonzalez stifled the Houston Astros on five hits in six strong innings and paced the Orioles to a 3-1 win in the rubber game of a three-game series on Thursday at Minute Maid Park.
Gonzalez, who endured a winless May in which he received precious little run support, surrendered just one extra-base hit, a first-inning double to Astros catcher Jason Castro that positioned Houston (22-39) to score its only run.
Gonzalez (3-2) struck out seven and issued one walk, an intentional pass to Castro in the third.
The Orioles (34-26) provided Gonzalez with just seven runs of support in four May starts. Baltimore wasn’t much better in the series finale, but a three-run fourth inning off Astros right-hander Bud Norris (5-5) proved enough.
After stranding two base runners in scoring position in the second, Norris failed to escape the fourth unscathed after Chris Davis and Adam Jones reached on a single and a double, with Davis scoring on Jones’ first run-scoring hit of the series. Two batters later, shortstop J.J. Hardy delivered the second of his four hits, an RBI single to right that scored Jones from third for a 3-1 advantage.
Hardy capped a series of three consecutive multi-hit games by going 4-for-4. Davis finished 2-for-4.
With Darren O’Day, Brian Matusz and Jim Johnson, who picked up his 20th save, combining to work three scoreless innings in relief, Baltimore improved to 9-11 in the series finales and 7-3 in rubber matches of three-game series.
Norris had been impeccable at Minute Maid Park, posting the lowest home ERA (1.83) since the start of the 2012 season. He overcame his hiccup in the fourth to log at least seven innings for the fourth time in his last seven starts, matching his season high with seven strikeouts.
After Castro advanced Brandon Barnes to third base with his first-inning double, J.D. Martinez followed with a sacrifice fly to right field. Houston advanced just two additional runners into scoring position.
NOTES: Orioles third baseman Manny Machado has hit safely in 13 of his last 14 road games, including a single in the seventh inning. … Norris had not allowed more than two earned runs in any of his previous seven home starts this season.