Ortiz became the first Red Sox’s player to reach 30 homers before the All-Star game, hitting one in the first inning Friday night to propel Boston to a 7-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
“I’m just trying to do my thing, man. A lot of work, a lot of ups and downs. You just got to keep fighting,” Ortiz said.
But considering the long list of power hitters who have worn the Red Sox uniform, it’s a rather remarkable accomplishment. Isn’t it?
“I just swing hard in case I hit it,” Ortiz said. “Over the years you learn what you want to do and get it done. That’s me.”
Ortiz’s milestone came in the first meeting between the teams since the White Sox swept the Red Sox in the AL divisional playoffs last season. It was also a matchup of the last two World Series champions, franchises that both ended long title droughts in consecutive years.
Ortiz lined a two-run shot over the fence in right off Mark Buehrle to move one home run ahead of Chicago’s Jim Thome for the major league lead. It gave Ortiz three homers in the last two games and seven in the same number of games.
“Whenever you get it, you got to keep it that way,” Ortiz said of his homer tear. “It can go away, come back, go away, come back. But at least you try to keep it consistent.”
Buehrle is 0-2 since White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen selected him for the AL All-Star team.
“Ortiz is a monster up there at the plate,” Buehrle said. “You make a mistake he’s going to make you pay. … Anytime you get behind in the count to that guy, he’s going to do what he did.”
Jon Lester (4-0) became the first Boston rookie to win his first four decisions since Aaron Sele went 6-0 in 1993. The left-hander allowed six hits and two runs in six innings with three walks and three strikeouts. He got out of two early bases loaded situations by giving up just one run each time on a sacrifice fly by Jermaine Dye.
“I was just fortunate enough to get out of there with one run each time,” Lester said. “With the lineup they have, it feels good to get a win and do halfway decent against them.”
Ortiz scored the go-ahead run in the fourth, leading off with a single, moving up twice on groundballs and crossing the plate on Mike Lowell’s two-out single.
The Red Sox made it 4-2 in the fifth when Coco Crisp and Alex Gonzalez singled to put runners at the corners and Kevin Youkilis hit a sacrifice fly. Gonzalez’s third hit of the game, an RBI single in the seventh, made it a three-run game and finished Buehrle.
Lowell and Crisp hit solo homers in the ninth off Brandon McCarthy. Gonzalez added another single to tie a career high with four hits. Boston finished with 13 for the game.
“They got two of the best hitters in baseball,” Buehrle said of Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. “They’re awfully good. They got that offense and we haven’t even seen their two best pitchers yet. They’re not in first in the American League East for nothing.”
Buehrle (9-6) allowed nine hits and five runs in 6 1-3 innings. In his previous outing against the Cubs, he gave up 13 hits and a career-high 11 runs in five innings.
Buehrle said he’s made Guillen’s decision to add him to the AL roster look questionable.
“I pitched pretty bad in the last two outings and haven’t helped him for making that decision,” Buehrle said. “It’s frustrating.”
The game marked the first time the Red Sox and White Sox had met as back-to-back World Champions since 1919. The Red Sox won in 1918 and the White Sox the year before. … Boston 2B Mark Loretta was 1-for-18 before his first-inning double. Crisp ended an 0-for-23 skid with a bloop single in the fifth. … Ramirez, who pulled out of the All-Star game Friday with a sore knee, went 0-for-5. … White Sox 2B Tadahito Iguchi sat out his fourth straight game with a sprained left ankle. He was injured Monday in a collision with Dye chasing a pop fly.