BOSTON — David Ortiz stood in the batter’s box watching as the ball he just crushed hung in the air for what felt like forever before landing in the right-field stands.
Boston’s designated hitter wanted to make sure it stayed fair, as did the umpires.
Their review lasted only 44 seconds, about as long as it took the Red Sox slugger to circle the bases after his latest heroics.
Ortiz added yet another chapter to his storied career on Wednesday, belting a three-run homer off Texas reliever Neal Cotts in the eighth inning that powered the Red Sox to a much-needed 4-2 win over the Rangers.
“Seen that before, right?” Red Sox left fielder Jonny Gomes said. “It seems like we’re just trying to win a ballgame and he’s adding to his Hall of Fame resume.
“He’s a heck of a player, heck of a clutch player.”
The victory helped salvage a difficult opening homestand for the Red Sox, who had lost four of five at Fenway Park before Big Papi delivered his second homer of the season and 24th career go-ahead shot in the eighth inning or later.
This time, though, the odds were against him.
Texas took the lead on a sacrifice fly in the top of eighth, but Rangers reliever Alexi Ogando (0-1) began the bottom half by walking center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. and allowing a bloop single to pinch-hitter A.J. Pierzynski.
After second baseman Dustin Pedroia reached on a fielder’s choice that erased pinch-runner Grady Sizemore at second, Texas manager Ron Washington turned to his southpaw to face the left-handed hitting Ortiz.
Cotts had struck him out in all five of their matchups.
“I feel comfortable with Neal up there against him,” Washington said. “David won.”
Ortiz watched Cotts’ first pitch for a strike, swung halfway on the second to run the count to 1-1 and then turned on an inside fastball, hitting it just inside Pesky Pole in right field.
“So many times has he bailed us out, no different today,” Boston manager John Farrell said. “Particularly against a matchup that was way in favor of Cotts. Five at-bats previous, five strikeouts, and this time David got him.”
Ortiz said he learned from his past shortcomings against Cotts, including Tuesday night when he went down swinging on four pitches.
“He’s a guy that his ball moves hard away late, against lefties especially,” Ortiz explained. “But that at-bat I had him the other night helped me to make some adjustments today, and it worked.”
Closer Koji Uehara pitched a perfect ninth for his second save of the year, sending the Red Sox off in style as they embark on a seven-game road trip, starting Thursday at Yankee Stadium.
“You know how this ballclub is. Once we take off hitting, get into that momentum and we keep on rolling that way,” Ortiz said. “I’m the kind of hitter that I always believe that one good at-bat gets your momentum going, especially when things are not going that well.”
First baseman Mitch Moreland homered for Texas, which took the lead against reliever Andrew Miller (1-0) in the eighth.
Shortstop Elvis Andrus led off the eighth with a double, moved to third on a groundout and scored on a line-drive sacrifice fly to center by right fielder Alex Rios.
But Ortiz erased the comeback with one swing.
“Ortiz is one of the best and one of the clutchest hitters in history. There’s nothing you can do,” Andrus said. “He’s been doing that for a long time.”
Boston starter Jake Peavy cruised through six innings, allowing only two hits, including left fielder Shin-Soo Choo’s double on the first pitch of the game. The right-hander did not surrender another hit until center fielder Leonys Martin singled with one out in the fifth, striking out seven of 10 batters during one stretch.
But Moreland tied the score leading off the seventh, sending a 2-0 fastball sailing into the Rangers’ bullpen in right field.
Peavy gave up one run and three hits through 6 2/3 innings, striking out eight and walking four for his second straight no-decision.
Rangers starter Robbie Ross surrendered just one hit through five innings but walked six batters, including Bradley Jr. with one out in the third. He later scored on Ross’ throwing error.
Ross allowed just the unearned run and two hits overall.
NOTES: The Red Sox on Wednesday activated LHP Craig Breslow from the disabled list and sent RHP Brandon Workman to Triple-A Pawtucket. Breslow, who had strained his left shoulder, went 5-2 with a 1.81 ERA out of Boston’s bullpen last season. … 3B Adrian Beltre returned to Texas on Wednesday for further tests and examination by Dr. Keith Meister after leaving the Rangers’ game on Tuesday with tightness in his left quadriceps. … RHP Clay Buchholz (0-0, 12.46 ERA) will make his second start of the season on Thursday for the Red Sox, who begin a four-game series against RHP Michael Pineda (0-1, 1.50) and the New York Yankees. … RHP Yu Darvish (1-0, 0.00) will take the mound in the Rangers’ next game on Friday against Houston RHP Scott Feldman (2-0, 0.66).