BOSTON (AP) — Texas manager Ron Washington's decision to follow conventional baseball wisdom looked questionable with David Ortiz waiting on deck.
And Big Papi made him pay.
Ortiz hit a game-ending three-run homer after the previous batter was intentionally walked, lifting the Boston Red Sox to a 6-3 victory over the Rangers on Thursday night.
Jonny Gomes led off the ninth with a double to center off Michael Kirkman (0-2) and Dustin Pedroia was walked intentionally to set up a potential double play. Ortiz then lined the first pitch he saw from left-hander Kirkman into the Rangers' bullpen for hit his 11th career game-ending home run, and his 10th since joining the Red Sox in 2003.
"That was the best move to make right there. It's not the first left-hander Big Papi got, but that was the right move to make right there," Washington said. "It was the only move to make. I can live with Papi doing that, but if I would have (pitched to) Pedroia and he'd have won the game I couldn't live with that."
Some were already second-guessing the move.
"I don't know what the game plan was right there, but that's not really the guy you want to go after on that situation," Boston starter Jon Lester said. "He's done it plenty of times before."
Ortiz watched his homer for a few moments before trotting toward home, where he was met by a swarm of celebrating teammates.
"Inside fastball right where I wanted it," Kirkman said. "I faced him the other day, had some success, but apparently he was just sitting on that pitch. I thought it was a really good pitch. Movement inside, right where I wanted it and he just got the barrel to it."
Jeff Baker had a two-run homer and Adrian Beltre a solo shot off Lester.
Jacoby Ellsbury scored the tying run on a fielder's choice in the seventh inning of his first game after sitting out five straight because of a groin injury.
Andrew Bailey (2-0) pitched a scoreless ninth for Boston, which took two of three from Texas.
Ellsbury had a pair of doubles and two singles. Gomes also had four hits and Pedroia hit a two-run double in the third.
Texas led 3-2 until Ellsbury scored in the seventh when Mike Napoli beat out the throw on a grounder that would have ended the inning after Boston loaded the bases with one out. Napoli hit a sharp grounder to first baseman Lance Berkman, who bounced his throw to Elvis Andrus covering second.
Lester survived a rocky first few innings and pitched through the sixth for Boston, leaving with the Red Sox trailing 3-2 on Baker's two-run homer in the second. Beltre hit his in the third. Lester also had to get out of trouble in the first by striking out Nelson Cruz after a two-out walk to Berkman and a single by Beltre.
Boston got two back with two outs in the third when Pedroia doubled off the center-field wall after Jose Iglesias reached on a walk and Ellsbury singled.
Lester allowed three runs on seven hits, walked three and struck out four.
Texas starter Derek Holland allowed two runs on nine hits, also walking three and striking out four. Holland was 5-0 against Boston entering the game.
NOTES: The Rangers placed 1B Mitch Moreland on the 15-day disabled list Thursday with a strained right hamstring and called up 1B Chris McGuinness from Triple-A Round Rock. ... Lester was making his 200th career start, the third LHP in Red Sox history to reach the mark. ... The Rangers clinched the season series against Boston for the fifth straight year with a 3-2 win Wednesday. ... Baker's homer in the second was his fourth in the last nine games. ... Iglesias' single in the sixth increased his hitting streak to 10 games. ... Ellsbury had been out since setting a club record with five stolen bases last week in a victory over Philadelphia.
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