David Ortiz hits 2-run homer, Red Sox beat Rays 2-1
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Boston’s clubhouse was buzzing about David Ortiz’s high-and-deep homer in the first inning, a drive that provided the winning margin as the Red Sox moved close to a postseason berth in the slugger’s final season.
Ortiz hit a two-run shot to set the RBIs record for a player in his final year, and the AL East-leading Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1 on Friday night for their ninth straight win.
“It’s not all about the distance,” Ortiz said after the 411-foot drive. “It’s about scoring runs and make sure we put us in position to win the game.”
Ortiz’s 37th homer came off Chris Archer (8-19) and raised his RBIs total to 124, one more than Shoeless Joe Jackson in 1920. The 40-year-old’s 540th homer, his 300th on the road, struck an overhanging catwalk above the right-field seats.
“I’m used to the ball going over the fence but that far, I don’t think you really ever get used to that,” teammate Mookie Betts said. “He’s just doing what he always does.”
When asked if he’s thinking about 40 homers, Ortiz said with a laugh “I’m 40.”
Coming off four-game sweeps of the New York Yankees and Baltimore, the Red Sox have a 5½-game lead over second-place Toronto in the AL East. They lowered their magic number to two for clinching a playoff berth.
Drew Pomeranz (3-5) allowed one run and four hits in five innings. Brad Ziegler, the fifth Boston reliever, got his fourth save after allowing a leadoff double in the ninth to Evan Longoria.
Red Sox set-up man Koji Uehara and closer Craig Kimbrel were both given the night off after extensive use recently.
Archer set a Tampa Bay record for losses in a season, breaking the mark Tanyon Sturtze set in 2002. He has lost 11 straight decisions against Boston since beating the Red Sox in his first career start against them on Sept. 19, 2012.
“It stinks whenever you’re on the mound for so many team losses,” Archer said.
Ortiz appeared to have his 524th double with the Red Sox, which would have moved him within one of tying Ted Williams for second on the franchise list, but was called out at second base in the seventh after Tampa Bay challenged the original safe call. He was credited with a single.
Mikie Mahtook hit a solo homer in the second for the Rays.
Red Sox: Knuckleballer Steven Wright (shoulder) threw at 120 feet on flat ground and might have a bullpen session Sunday.
Rays: OF Steven Souza Jr. was in the clubhouse, two days after left hip surgery and expects to be ready for spring training.
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Ortiz has 35 homers at Tropicana Field, the most of any opponent.
Red Sox RHP Rick Porcello (21-4) will face Rays RHP Matt Andriese (8-7) Saturday night. Porcello has gone seven innings or more and allowed three runs or fewer in 11 consecutive starts, which ties Cy Young (1904) and Pedro Martinez (2000) for the long stretch in a single season in team history.