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David Ortiz sent the Fenway Faithful into a frenzy with his walkoff homer.
David Ortiz sent the Fenway Faithful into a frenzy with his walkoff homer. (Globe Staff Photo / Jim Davis)
RED SOX 6, ORIOLES 4

Exit strategy

Ortiz sends Fenway fans home happy with HR

He is a humble, self-deprecating guy, who actually said not more than 30 minutes after blasting a walkoff three-run homer off Orioles closer B.J. Ryan, ''I don't do anything but go out there and hit once in a while, so I've got to get people to know me. The best way to get people to know me is to produce at the right time."

There might a cave dweller somewhere in New England who may not know the man affectionately known as Big Papi, but it's a pretty safe bet everybody else knows who David Ortiz is, especially after his homer delivered Boston's 6-4 victory yesterday at Fenway Park.

He is a specialist, for sure, a designated hitter to be feared, though Monday he will return to St. Louis, the scene of the Red Sox' championship celebration, where he played first base.

''I'm a designated hitter and not out there playing defense. I step up there to the plate for 10-15 minutes," said Ortiz. ''When people look out on the field, they don't see me out there. They only see me when I walk to the plate. I try to do my best, always."

When Ortiz's shot rocketed on a line toward center field and landed with a thud on the black canvas covering a small section of the bleachers, his teammates thundered out of the dugout toward home plate, where they waited for Ortiz.

''You saw my basketball skills," said Ortiz of the leap he took before landing on the plate amid a sea of red-clad teammates.

Even Sox principal owner John W. Henry asked in an e-mail, ''Has there ever been a greater clutch hitter in Red Sox history than David?"

Humble and humorous, Ortiz was asked again whether he thought there were people who didn't know of him. He deadpanned, ''A child that was just born today."

The Red Sox needed heroics on a day when it looked as if they might lose their second straight to the first-place Orioles. The Sox were trailing, 4-3, when they came up in the ninth.

Embattled Keith Foulke had surrendered the go-ahead run in the top of the inning. David Newhan led off with an infield single and stole second. Newhan was sacrificed to third before Foulke walked Miguel Tejada (intentionally) and Sammy Sosa to load the bases. Newhan scored on a fielder's choice by Rafael Palmeiro.

''It was just frustrating to give up a run," said Foulke, who threw 24 pitches in 1 1/3 innings in evening his record to 3-3. ''I'm not as bummed as I would be if we had lost, but any time the team wins a game like that, it's great for our team."

Ryan, a tall lefthander, entered the game leading the league in appearances (now 28) and a gaudy strikeout rate (13.67 per nine innings) and only one blown save in 11 opportunities.

Simply put, this guy is tough.

After Johnny Damon flied to deep center, Mark Bellhorn reached on an infield hit to third base. Kevin Youkilis was next and struck out. Edgar Renteria, who was 0 for 3, took a quick glance toward third base and saw Melvin Mora playing back.

Renteria shocked everyone when he dropped a perfect bunt that froze Mora and continued an inning that could have been over then and there. Manager Terry Francona confirmed that it was Renteria reading the situation. Henry called it ''gutsy."

''That was great," said Ortiz. ''I'm telling you guys, Edgar is a great player. He plays the game the way it's supposed to be played and when Edgar is walking to the plate, he's watching everybody and he doesn't miss a second of the game. He knows what his role is when he's hitting second. He saw the third baseman was playing deep and he took his chance. He knows how to play the game."

Ortiz came up and he knew he was about to get a rash of 92-mile-per-hour fastballs up and in. He had homered against Ryan last July 28, and hoped he could get that type of swing on the ball.

''I put myself into a situation, concentrate the best I can, and go up there and swing the bat," said Ortiz.

On a 3-and-2 pitch, Ortiz got all of it.

''I hit it pretty good," said Ortiz, who was no stranger to walkoff homers, having hit two last postseason. ''Yeah, I hit it good."

Though he failed in his bid to go 7-0, Sox starter Matt Clement was solid again, allowing just six hits in six innings, though he blew a 3-1 lead in the sixth.

''I guess you look at the sixth inning and you hate to go into the sixth with a 3-1 lead and not hold on to it," said Clement, who walked three and fanned four. ''A negative inning in my mind because I gave up the runs, but to not leave that inning or have to be taken out of the game losing, 5-3 or 6-3, is a big point of the game for me and my team."

The Sox got to rookie Hayden Penn, making his second major league start, with a run in the first when Ortiz's ground out scored Youkilis, who led off with a double to left-center. He took third on Renteria's fly to right.

In the fourth, the Sox rallied to take the 3-1 lead on Jason Varitek's two-run double down the left-field line.

The Sox had a golden chance to blow the game open in the seventh, loading the bases on a hit, a hit batsman, and an error. But the threat ended when Manny Ramirez grounded out.

But heroics were to come. And when Ortiz hit the long ball, his fifth walkoff homer as a Red Sox, Francona said, ''I almost felt like I was having my second fake heart attack."

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