The Boston Red Sox not only made their emotional return to Fenway Park on Saturday, they did so in winning fashion against the Kansas City Royals.
Boston can match its longest winning streak in two years by sweeping Sunday's split doubleheader from Kansas City.
The twin bill was scheduled to make up for Friday's game, which was postponed as authorities continued to search for and eventually found the second suspect from Monday's bombings at the Boston Marathon.
Saturday marked the first home game for the Red Sox (12-4) since Monday's events, with Fenway playing host to pregame ceremonies to honor the victims. Those ceremonies included a passionate speech from David Ortiz, who then went 2 for 4 in his season debut as he helped Boston to a 4-3 victory.
The win was the Red Sox's seventh straight, their longest streak since they won nine in a row June 3-12, 2011.
Ortiz's RBI single tied the game at one in the sixth before Daniel Nava's three-run homer in the eighth off Kelvin Herrera eventually paved the way for the victory.
"Driving around and looking around at people's faces, it was a very emotional day here just looking at those guys that were injured by those bombs going off and watching the news nearly every day, it was painful, very painful," said Ortiz, who played in his first major league game since Aug. 24 as he dealt with a right Achilles tendon injury. "Today I could see people opening their chest and letting it go."
While the Royals (8-7) have lost four of six, being a part of Saturday's emotional festivities seemed to take precedent over defeat.
"To go through and see everybody getting into it and what this city went through, just to be a part of it was amazing," said Lorenzo Cain, who went 4 for 4 with a solo homer off of closer Andrew Bailey in the ninth.
The Red Sox will send Ryan Dempster to the mound in Sunday's opener while the Royals will answer with Ervin Santana, with both teams seeking a continuation of strong pitching after solid outings Saturday. James Shields gave up one run on four hits over six innings for Kansas City while Clay Buchholz held the Royals to two runs on eight hits in eight innings.
Dempster (0-1, 2.65 ERA) will also look to continue Boston's streak of starters giving up three or fewer runs in all 16 contests so far. Though he's yet to record a victory with his new team, Dempster is coming off his best outing of the season as he limited Tampa Bay to a run on two hits in seven innings while striking out 10 in a 3-2 victory Monday. A blown save by Bailey squandered Dempster's bid for his first win with Boston, though he wasn't deterred.
"Anytime I can start a ballgame and we win that ballgame, that's all that matters," Dempster, 2-0 with a 4.00 ERA in three starts against the Royals, told the team's official website.
Santana (1-1, 2.45) is also fresh off a good showing, throwing eight innings against Toronto while giving up two runs on seven hits in a 3-2 victory last Sunday. He is 3-3 with a 4.13 ERA in 11 starts against the Red Sox.
Boston will send 23-year-old Allen Webster to the mound in the nightcap in his major league debut. Webster, who will be recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket, was acquired from the Dodgers in last year's trade that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford to Los Angeles. The right-hander owns a 0.90 ERA with 12 strikeouts in 10 innings over two outings for Pawtucket.
Webster will be opposed by the much more experienced Jeremy Guthrie (2-0, 3.20), who is 3-7 with a 4.96 ERA in 18 starts against the Red Sox, though two of those victories have come in the last three.
Ortiz will likely feel comfortable facing Guthrie, as he's 13 for 38 (.342) with five doubles and three homers against him. Meanwhile, Kansas City's Chris Getz has 10 hits in 23 career at-bats against Santana.
Outfielder Shane Victorino left Saturday's game with tightness in his lower back after trying to lay down a bunt, and he'll be reevaluated prior to the doubleheader, Boston manager John Farrell said.