MIAMI (AP)—The Boston Red Sox may not want interleague play to end.
Mark Loretta’s eighth-inning sacrifice fly brought Alex Cora home with the go-ahead run Sunday, and David Ortiz hit his third homer in two days to help the Red Sox beat the Florida Marlins 4-3 in the teams’ interleague finale.
Boston went 16-2 against the National League this season, tying the highest victory total in interleague history; Oakland won that many in 2002 and Minnesota did it this year, finishing its run off with an 8-0 win Sunday over Milwaukee.
“Hopefully, it just means that we’re playing good baseball and we can beat whoever we play,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.
Youkilis’ home run led off the game and Varitek’s led off the second inning for Boston. Ortiz added his 26th homer in the third, one day after his two-homer, four-RBI effort helped Boston win Saturday.
“It’s cool coming down, seeing your people, have people get to see you play,” Ortiz said. “We don’t get down here a lot.”
Jonathan Papelbon pitched 1 1-3 innings for his 25th save in 27 chances. He came in with two outs and the bases empty in the eighth to face Miguel Cabrera, who tied the game with a solo homer in the seventh—and got Florida’s best hitter to ground out to shortstop.
“That was the first time I had seen him,” Cabrera said. “I knew he had a good sinker. On 3-1, he threw the sinker, and he beat me.”
Former top Boston prospect Hanley Ramirez had two hits, including a leadoff home run for the Marlins, who tied a season-high by stranding 13 runners. Boston left only two on base.
Miguel Olivo had a run-scoring single in the fifth for Florida, cutting Boston’s cushion to 3-2 by bringing home Cabrera—who reached three batters earlier on an infield hit. Cabrera tied it with his 13th homer of the year, but the Marlins left the bases loaded for the second time in the game.
“Pitchers are paid to make pitches and hitters are paid to drive in runs,” Marlins manager Joe Girardi said. “They did a little better job than we did today.”
Cora reached to lead off the eighth when Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla couldn’t cleanly field his grounder, and the Red Sox took advantage. Cora went to third on Gabe Kapler’s sharp single, and scored two batters later on the flyball by Loretta—whose 13-game hitting streak ended.
“I just had a tough play,” Uggla said. “That was a weird ball. It was in between hops. If I had caught it clean, I would have made the play.”
Marlins starter Josh Johnson allowed only four hits—the three solo homers and a first-inning single to Manny Ramirez—in seven innings, the last four of which were hitless. He walked four and struck out five. Johnson came in having allowed three homers all year, then saw that total double in the first 2 2-3 innings.
“He got his rhythm after the third and figured it out,” Girardi said.
Lester walked Johnson on four pitches in the second, getting himself into a bases-loaded, no-out jam. He got Hanley Ramirez to fly out to short right, keeping Joe Borchard at third base. Uggla popped out to third for the second out, and Cabrera flied out to center to end the inning.
“He finds a way to limit the damage,” Francona said. “Which, for a young kid, I think is especially exciting.”
“You’ve got to make your own breaks,” Youkilis said. “We put ourselves in a bind a couple times, but we battled out of it. If it was easy every day, there’d be a team that wins 140 games a year.”
It was the first time in exactly one year that a game featured two leadoff home runs. Orlando Palmeiro and Felipe Lopez did it for Houston and Cincinnati on July 2, 2005. … Hanley Ramirez’s leadoff homer was his first in 150 at-bats in his home park. … The Red Sox made two more errors, giving them four in two games—after their major league-record 17-game run of perfect defense ended Saturday. … All but one of Varitek’s eight homers have come on the road. … Ortiz, who made only his seventh start at first base, was charged with an error in the third inning when he dropped a popup near the Marlins’ dugout.