Red Sox 9, Blue Jays 4
BOSTON (AP)—It’s been a while since David Ortiz has gotten the best of Fenway Park.
The Red Sox slugger hadn’t homered at home since April 21—a span of 129 at-bats over 34 games. He ended that slump on Saturday night, and Eric Hinske and Jason Varitek also homered for Boston to help Daisuke Matsuzaka overcome a rough outing and beat the Toronto Blue Jays 9-4.
“It’s not going to be another 129 at-bats,” Ortiz said. “It could be worse. Everybody’s worried about me hitting homers. But people who may see that may be like, ‘He may not be hitting homers but the guy is hitting .320 year-round. One thing covered the other.”
Ortiz hit 22 of his franchise-record 54 homers at Fenway last year, and his game-winning hits have been thrilling the hometown crowds since Boston’s 2004 World Series run. But the Red Sox designated hitter, who revealed Thursday that he has had a torn meniscus in his right knee for more than a year, is well off both paces, hitting just four of this year’s 15 homers at home.
“He is one of the most feared hitters in baseball, and he rises to the occasion,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “That’s why he is a superstar. I’m sure he is hurt, but he is out there every day and one swing can burn you in a hurry.”
Matsuzaka (11-6) was charged with four runs on nine hits and two walks, striking out two in six innings for his fourth win in five decisions. The Japanese right-hander has given up 10 runs in his last two starts after allowing a total of six runs in his six starts before that.
“I was hoping to see some improvement after that time, but I didn’t,” said Matsuzaka, who went to the stretch with nobody on in the fourth to help regain his form. “Whenever I’m pitching poorly, I try to make adjustments during the game. But no matter what I tried today, I couldn’t adjust very well.
“I was disappointed from beginning to end.”
Troy Glaus and Aaron Hill each had a single, a double and a homer off Matsuzaka, driving in three runs in the sixth to help the Blue Jays erase a 4-1 deficit. But Varitek hit a two-run homer with nobody out in the bottom half to chase Dustin McGowan (5-5) and start a five-run rally that broke the game open.
“They come back to tie it, Daisuke’s coming out of the game, and ‘Tek takes a gorgeous swing,” Boston manager Terry Francona said.
McGowan, who pitched seven scoreless innings in his last start and took a no-hitter into the ninth on June 24, allowed six runs on eight hits and two walks while striking out four.
Julio Lugo had three hits to give him 1,001 in his career and raise his batting average to .209 from a low of .189 a week ago. He singled with one out after Varitek’s homer, took second when Coco Crisp walked and scored on Dustin Pedroia’s single.
Crisp, who singled, tripled and walked twice, and Pedroia engineered a double-steal without drawing a throw. Ortiz was intentionally walked, Manny Ramirez hit a sacrifice fly to score Crisp, and Kevin Youkilis singled to bring in Pedroia and make it 9-4.
Alex Rios, who was 6-for-8 with three doubles in the first two games of the series, went 0-for-3 with a walk. … Vernon Wells snapped an 0-for-7 slump with a leadoff double in the first. … Red Sox RHP Brendan Donnelly (strained right forearm) felt tightness in his injured arm while warming up for a Class-A rehab appearance Friday night and was scratched. He’s going to Anaheim for a second opinion on Tuesday. … Boston RF J.D. Drew, who left Friday’s game with a sore right hamstring, was not in the starting lineup Saturday. “I don’t think you’ll see him play (Sunday), but I don’t think he’s too far off,” Francona said. … Hinske’s homer snapped an 0-for-13 slump. … Manny Delcarmen struck out a career-high four in two scoreless innings of relief. … After the game, Toronto recalled Brandon League from Triple-A Syracuse and optioned RHP Jordan De Jong to Syracuse.