BOSTON (AP) — David Ortiz isn’t quite finished with the late-inning heroics.
The soon-to-retire Red Sox slugger opened his final weekend with yet another game-winning homer, lining a two-run shot into the right-field stands to break a seventh-inning tie and help Boston beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-3 on Friday night.
“I’ve seen it for 10 years: Every time there’s a big situation, he’s always found a way to come through,” said second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who had three hits to reach 201 for the season. “We’re going to enjoy it, because it’s pretty special.”
With his image mowed into the grass in center for the final regular-season series of his career, Ortiz was honored in a pregame ceremony and responded with an RBI single in the first. The Red Sox trailed 3-1 in the seventh when they scored two to tie it and then Brett Cecil came in to face Ortiz.
The crowd, which sat through a 25-minute rain delay, rose to its feet chanting “Papi!” After working the count to 2-1, Ortiz lined the ball past the Pesky Pole for his 38th homer of the season — and No. 541 of his career.
The chants waned slightly before Ortiz popped out of the dugout for a curtain call.
“On a night that begins a weekend celebration, I don’t know that you can write a script for what David did here tonight offensively,” manager John Farrell said. “Nights like tonight he almost leaves you speechless. … (He) turned this place upside down.”
Told that Farrell called it a storybook finish, Ortiz said, “I wish that it is.”
“We worked pretty hard to get here, and it’s working out pretty good,” said the 40-year-old slugger, who tied Ken Griffey Jr. and Rafael Palmeiro for eighth on baseball’s career list with 1,192 extra-base hits.
Devon Travis had three hits, including a pair of doubles, and Jose Bautista homered for Toronto.
The Red Sox snapped a three-game losing streak and stayed a half-game ahead of Cleveland in the race for home-field advantage when their playoff series begins next week.
The Blue Jays fell one game behind Baltimore in the wild-card race and are now within range of Detroit and Seattle in the fight for the AL’s final postseason berth.
“We needed it. We need every game,” Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada said. “We’re still in it. We’re right there.”
Andrew Benintendi led off the seventh with a double and Pedroia dribbled one to the third base side. Catcher Russell Martin’s throw went past first baseman Justin Smoak; the ball got trapped under the tarp down the right-field line and time was called.
Benintendi took off for third, and Pedroia scrambled back to first. Toronto manager John Gibbons came out to argue, but things got worse when the umpires awarded Pedroia second base; after some more arguing, Benintendi was pointed home.
“I picked up the ball, slick ball, turned around and threw it as quickly as I could. It just took off on me,” Martin said. “I wish I could take it back. I feel like that’s a play I can make in my sleep but today it didn’t happen.”
Brad Ziegler (2-3) picked up the win with one inning of scoreless relief after major league wins-leader Rick Porcello failed to pick up his 23rd victory. Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 31st save.
Toronto’s Joe Biagini (4-3) allowed three runs and four hits in 1 1/3 innings.
Toronto: Estrada took an Ortiz liner off the leg in the third inning but fielded the ball and remained in the game.
Boston: Farrell said knuckleballer Steven Wright would need two more bullpen sessions before facing live batters and thus was ruled out for at least the first round of the postseason.
Blue Jays: Left-hander J.A. Happ (20-4) will start as Toronto tries to hold off Baltimore in the AL wild-card race.
Red Sox: Lefty Eduardo Rodriguez (3-7) will make his last regular-season start.
This version corrects to Boston is a half-game ahead of Cleveland instead of a game.
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