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Ortiz fuels Red Sox's win05/28/2004 9:06 PM ET
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
BOSTON -- He was looking for his first grand slam in nearly four years, and his first home run in nearly two weeks. But more than anything else, David Ortiz was trying to help his team -- not to mention close pal Pedro Martinez -- wiggle out of a 4-2 deficit.
When the juiciest of opportunities presented itself Friday night at Fenway Park, Ortiz unloaded. He belted a first-pitch fastball from Joel Pineiro into the Mariners bullpen.
With one powerful swing, Ortiz accomplished a lot. The second grand slam of Ortiz's career was also the 100th home run of his career. And it lifted Martinez and the Sox to an entertaining 6-4 victory before a packed Fenway house of 35,134.
"David is so good when it comes to that situation," said Sox cleanup man Manny Ramirez. "I think he's the best on the team. He always gets the clutch hit."
Give Ortiz credit for his timing. Aside from overturning the deficit, it was his first longball since May 15, a span of 40 at-bats.
His 11th homer of the season boosted his American League-leading RBI total to 43.
Ortiz's heroics have almost come to be expected. He certainly has reached the stage where he expects it from himself.
"I hit in the middle of the lineup, that's part of my job," Ortiz said. "Especially in a situation like that. I hit it pretty good. I just didn't have extension on it. But I stayed inside it pretty good."
The only question about the towering shot was whether the magnificent Ichiro Suzuki would catch up to it and perhaps stick his glove over the short wall that tops the bullpen. But Ortiz got the extra few feet he needed.
"He's so strong," marveled Ramirez. "He doesn't have to hit the ball so good to go deep."
Nobody was more appreciative of Ortiz's big blow than Martinez, who gritted his way through seven innings (eight hits, four runs, nine strikeouts) to pick up his first win since May 6. The three-time Cy Young Award winner ran his record to 5-3.
Martinez also continued his mastery against the Mariners, improving his record against them to an almost inconceivable 13-0.
On this night, Martinez was more concerned about not pitching up to his considerably high standards than his continued fortune against Seattle.
"I have to tip my hat to my teammates for picking me up and not letting me lose any more games, keeping me in the battle," Martinez said. "[I'm not] pitching at the level I'm used to pitching at."
Still, it was good enough for the Sox to improve to 30-18 and retain their half-game lead over the Yankees in the AL East.
It took a while for the game to get going, as the threat of rain pushed back the first pitch by 1 hour, 20 minutes.
The Mariners struck first in the top of the second. Bret Boone smacked a solo homer to left, his eighth of the season. It was also the eighth homer given up by Martinez, one more than he surrendered all of last season.
Ramirez answered Boone's blast by striking one of his own in the bottom of the second. Boston's cleanup man went the other way, depositing his 13th homer into the Red Sox bullpen.
But the Mariners reclaimed the lead in the top of the third on Scott Spiezio's sac fly to center.
Perhaps affected by the delay, Martinez was having a tough time getting into a rhythm. The Mariners added to their lead in the fifth, as Rich Aurilia led off with a solo homer to left and Ichiro ripped an RBI single.
Then came the emphatic rebuttal by the Sox in the bottom of the fifth. Kevin Millar was the rally-starter with a one-out double off the Green Monster. Kevin Youkilis followed with a double down the line in left, slicing the deficit to two runs.
With two outs, Johnny Damon and Mark Bellhorn kept things alive with walks to load the bases.
"It's not the grand slam, it's the two walks before it," said Mariners manager Bob Melvin. "You put Damon and Bellhorn on like that and you put yourself in a position where you have to pitch to their best left-handed hitter."
Up stepped Ortiz, who hammered his first grand slam since Sept. 7, 2000.
The last one also came at Fenway Park on Sept. 7, 2000, when Ortiz -- then with the Twins -- smashed a grand slam against Ramon Martinez.
"I just tried to keep it in the family," quipped Ortiz. "One for Petey, one for Ramon. How about that, and [both] at Fenway."
As for Ramon's younger brother, he battled out of trouble in the top of the sixth. Boone and John Olerud led off with singles, and then Martinez slammed the door, notching back-to-back strikeouts and then an inning-ending grounder by Winn.
"Everything seems to be coming along," Martinez said.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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