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David Ortiz adds to legend as Boston Red Sox prevail

By
Mike Shalin, The Sports Xchange
Boston Red Sox's David Ortiz reacts on third base after Mookie Betts drives in 2 runs with a double in the 8th inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium in New York City on September 28, 2016. With a win the Red Sox will clinch the American League East Division. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Boston Red Sox's David Ortiz reacts on third base after Mookie Betts drives in 2 runs with a double in the 8th inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium in New York City on September 28, 2016. With a win the Red Sox will clinch the American League East Division. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

BOSTON -- David Ortiz began his final regular season weekend by adding another chapter to his special career.

The retiring designated hitter, honored before the game to start the festive weekend, singled home a run in the first inning and ripped a two-run homer in a four-run seventh that gave the Boston Red Sox an important 5-3 victory over the fading Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night.

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The win, in a game delayed at the start and played in a steady mist, kept the Red Sox one half-game ahead of Cleveland for home-field advantage in their American League Division Series.

The Blue Jays, who lost their third straight, fell a game behind the Baltimore Orioles for the top wild card spot and also saw their lead over the Detroit Tigers shrink to one-half game.

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Ortiz drilled his 38th homer of the season and delivered RBIs 126 and 127 after left-hander Brett Cecil was brought on to face him. A throwing error and RBI single by Mookie Betts tied the game off reliever Joe Biagini (4-3).

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Brad Ziegler (4-6) worked the seventh in relief of Rick Porcello and got the win. Koji Uehara pitched in and out of a jam in the eighth before Craig Kimbrel worked the ninth for his 31st save as the Red Sox snapped a three-game losing streak.

The end wasn't easy as Kimbrel, who failed to close Wednesday night's game in New York, walked two before striking out pinch hitter Dioner Navarro out on three pitches to end Friday's contest.

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Jose Bautista hit his 24th Fenway Park home run -- his 41st against the Red Sox -- to give the Jays a 3-1 lead off Porcello in the fifth. Josh Donaldson's sacrifice fly got the first run home.

Dustin Pedroia had three hits for the Red Sox, giving him his second 200-hit season, while his second base counterpart, Devon Travis, had three hits for ther Jays.

Ortiz met the media before his pregame ceremony and was asked about his favorite at-bat in a Red Sox uniform.

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"I have a lot of good at-bats here at Fenway, I'm not going to lie to you," Ortiz he said with a laugh. "But I definitely got to go back to 2004, man, those walk-offs (in the ALCS). That put us back on track. We used the opportunity to go back to New York and finish them off over there and win that World Series that everybody was expecting for the past 86 years at the time."

He had a walk-off homer in the 12th inning and walk-off single in Games 4 and 5, saying the homer at-bat against Paul Quantrill is his highlight as it kept his team alive. "That's the one at-bat I never forget about," he said.

Ortiz snapped an 0-for-10 skid Friday when he lined a single into left field in the first inning. He almost had another in the third when he ended the inning with a runner on second by smacking one off Marco Estrada, who recovered and got the out. With two outs and Pedroia on second in the fifth, he lined to deep right.

Toronto trailed 1-0 in the fifth when Travis doubled and took third on Ezequiel Carrera's bunt single as Porcello and third baseman Brock Holt miscommunicated on which player would take it. Donaldson's 99th RBI tied the game and Bautista connected for his 22nd home run of the season with two outs.

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NOTES: The first of two weekend David Ortiz ceremonies took place before the game, with Red Sox players wearing Ortiz patches on their hats. ... The Red Sox observed a moment of silence for Jose Fernandez. ... Boston manager John Farrell said RHP Steven Wright (shoulder) threw again Friday but won't be ready for the ALDS. ... Red Sox SS Xander Bogaerts, hitting .234 in September but 5-for-14 in the series in New York, was dropped to sixth in the batting order. ... Toronto LHP J.A. Happ goes for his 21st win when he faces LHP Eduardo Rodriguez in the rain-threatened second game of the series Saturday night. He is 2-0 against the Red Sox this season, while Rodriguez is 0-2 against the Jays but is coming off striking out 13 in 5 1/3 innings in his last start at Tampa Bay. ... Farrell said Brock Holt, not Travis Shaw, is the left-handed part of the third base platoon with Aaron Hill.

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