Ortiz has played such an integral role in the rivalry with the Yankees in his 14 seasons with the Boston Red Sox, and he added another memorable moment Friday night with an eighth-inning two-run home run as the Red Sox beat the Yankees 4-2 in their first of 19 meetings this year.
"It never died, it never died," Ortiz said about the thrill of playing the Yankees. "That was a hell of a game."
The homer broke a 2-2 tie and landed in the first row of the Green Monster in left field. The decisive hit came off of Yankees reliever Dellin Betances (0-2), and Ortiz had gone 0-for-7 against Betances with four strikeouts before Friday's late-game heroics.
"Hey, you know that Betances is one of the toughest pitchers in the league," Ortiz said. "The one that I hit, it stayed up a little longer than usual. He's a tough guy to hit, and finally I got a good hit."
Jackie Bradley Jr. also had a pair of RBIs for Boston (13-10), which has won five of its last six games following Thursday's 5-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves.
Boston's Henry Owens fared better than he did in his season debut, allowing just two runs on six hits and three walks and striking out two in a five-inning no-decision Friday.
The southpaw gave up three runs on five hits and walked four in 3 1/3 innings last Sunday at Houston, a game the Red Sox won 7-5 in 12 innings.
"There were some mechanical adjustments I made," Owens said. "I came out a little erratic. Trying to do too much, maybe focusing too much on it. I felt like as the game went on, I kind of got into a better rhythm. I just wanted to finish strong and keep the momentum on our side."
Carlos Beltran's 15-game hitting streak at Fenway ended after an 0-for-4 night.
"I really believe that we're going to bust out of this," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of his team's offensive struggles. "We haven't yet. And I know I keep saying that. But I really believe that in my heart that these guys are going to hit, we're going to score a lot of runs."
Masahiro Tanaka put up zeroes through 6 2/3 innings for the Yankees, but gave up a two-out, two-run double to Bradley in the seventh inning that tied the game.
"He was making pitches and he was getting us out," Bradley said of Tanaka. "We started to try to make adjustments, and we were able to put together some hits and eventually score.
Tanaka couldn't make it through seven innings for the sixth start in a row against Boston, surrendering two runs on six hits while striking out five in a no-decision.
"It's tough. I thought I pitched really well tonight and balls were coming out of my hand really good," Tanaka said through a translator. "But it was that last out that I needed to get and that's on me."
Rodriguez's second-inning blast clanged off the light tower in left-center and put New York ahead 1-0.
Boston moved a runner over to third in the bottom of the second, but Ryan Hanigan struck out swinging to end the frame.
Gardner's single in the fifth drove home Didi Gregorius from second and made it 2-0. The Yankees threatened to score more after an Owens wild pitch put runners on second and third, but Beltran popped out to end the inning.
NOTES: New York had won 11 of its last 15 games against Boston at Fenway Park. ... Boston sent RHP Carson Smith on a rehab assignment to Double-A Portland on Friday. ... Former Red Sox LHP Edwin Escobar was claimed off waivers by the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday. Escobar was designated for assignment on April 20. ... Thirty years ago Friday, Red Sox pitcher Roger Clemens, then 23 years old, struck out a major-league-record 20 batters in a 3-1 win over the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park. The 11-time All-Star and seven-time Cy Young Award winner spent 13 seasons with the Red Sox and later played six seasons with the Yankees, winning World Series titles with the club in 1999 and 2000. ... Yankees RHP Michael Pineda (1-2, 6.95 ERA) faces Red Sox RHP Rick Porcello (4-0, 3.51 ERA) on Saturday.