MINNEAPOLIS -- It seems as if David Ortiz just won't let the Twins forget the infamous mistake they made more than eight years ago, giving him an unceremonious release. Big Papi haunted his former mates yet again, seemingly willing the Red Sox to an 8-6 victory on Monday night at Target Field.
Backed by a 4-for-5 performance by Ortiz, which included the go-ahead single that snapped a tie in the top of the ninth, the Red Sox came all the way back from a 5-1 deficit. Ortiz's performance included a homer, a double, three runs and three RBIs.
"I've been gone for years already," Ortiz said. "It's a business. Sometimes you're right; sometimes you're wrong. One thing I always say about the Twins organization is I always thank them for giving me the opportunity to come and play at this level.
"I get satisfaction from beating everybody. That's why you play the game. You don't pick on one thing. Of course, you get a little extra excited when you play the team you played for before, but you go with the same intensity against everybody."
The intensity the Red Sox had to be able to bang out 17 hits and come back from that early hole was impressive, considering the marathon session Sunday night against the Yankees (four hours and 15 minutes) that prevented the team from arriving in Minneapolis until the 5 o'clock hour, local time, Monday morning.
"This game is crazy," said Ortiz. "One thing we know as baseball players, when you don't have all your energy out there, sometimes those are the best games you have because you're not trying to do too much, you know what I'm saying? Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. It worked today."
There was one bittersweet aspect to the win for Boston. Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield came up short for the third straight start in his quest for career win No. 200.
This time, Wakefield was closer than ever. After Wakefield pitched seven innings and allowed eight hits and five runs (three earned), the Red Sox broke a tie in the top of the eighth. Ortiz started it with a double. He moved to third on a soft groundout by Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and then scored when Joe Mauer couldn't handle the throw home on a grounder to short by Mike Aviles.
Perhaps Mauer was spooked by the thought of Big Papi rumbling in his path.
"He heard the big elephant coming," quipped Ortiz.
All that stood between Wakefield and the milestone win was a clean six outs from Boston's bullpen.
Typically, Daniel Bard pitches the eighth inning when the Sox have a lead. But the power righty had thrown 33 pitches over the previous two days, leaving him unavailable.
Alfredo Aceves got into some trouble right away when Trevor Plouffe led off the eighth with a ground-rule double. Mauer flew out to center, with Plouffe advancing to third. When Michael Cuddyer grounded to third, Aceves was just one out away from keeping Wakefield's lead intact. But Jason Kubel barreled up the 1-0 cutter from Aceves to tie it up.
Wakefield's next quest for 200 will likely come Sunday afternoon in Seattle.
"I'm just happy that we won," Wakefield said. "I was very grateful that I was able to have our offense get us back into the game. I was able to go seven."
The Red Sox badly want Wakefield to enjoy No. 200. But with this win over the Twins pushing their lead over the Yankees to just 1 1/2 games in the American League East, team goals are still the priority.
"We obviously want to win," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "Personally, we want Wake to get that win. The last three have been kind of back and forth. We gave them, if not errors early, some extra opportunities. They kind of cashed in, [Wakefield] left a couple of balls up. But we came right back. What's important is we won and everybody will leave here happy."
Adrian Gonzalez got the winning rally started with a single. Dustin Pedroia then beat out an infield hit against Twins closer Joe Nathan.
"He was throwing me some filthy pitches," said the right-handed-hitting Pedroia about the right-handed-pitching Nathan. "I was just trying my hardest to get David up there. Right-on-right with him is tough. It was a lucky hit, but we'll take it. I was just trying to fight him and hopefully walk or do something to get on base."
With Gonzalez in scoring position, Francona called on pinch-runner Darnell McDonald. When Ortiz ripped his line-drive single to center against Nathan, McDonald scored easily.
After a monster first half (.304, 19 homers, 55 RBIs), Ortiz has been a little quiet (.262, three homers) since the break. But Monday might have signaled that the lefty slugger is about to get hot again.
"It's a long season," said Ortiz, who improved his career numbers against his former club to .327 with 11 homers and 31 RBIs in 156 at-bats. "Just keep on working on your thing. The only reason you play 14 years in the big leagues is if you learn how to stay consistent. That's what the game is all about."
Jonathan Papelbon came on in the ninth to nail down the save, his 25th in 26 opportunities. Aceves, despite losing the lead, was credited with the win, his eighth of the season.
In Wakefield's three attempts at No. 200, he has notched a quality start each time, but that has led to a loss and two no-decisions.
"We're trying our hardest to get him some runs and get him that win," Pedroia said. "We're trying to come out and play hard and win every game. Right now, we're especially trying for him."
The Red Sox did make sure Wakefield wouldn't take the loss.
After being largely stifled over the first five innings on Monday, the Sox came storming back in the sixth against Twins starter Scott Baker. Carl Crawford ignited the rally with a leadoff triple to right-center. Gonzalez got him home with a sacrifice fly and Boston was down by three.
Pedroia singled, setting up Ortiz for a monster two-run homer to the upper deck in right, a blast estimated at 438 feet.
"He's driving the ball again, keeping his legs under him on the ball to left-center," Francona said. "Then he drives the ball out of the ballpark -- way out of the ballpark. It gets us right back in the game."
Up stepped Saltalamacchia, who followed Ortiz with a homer of his own, and suddenly it was a 5-5 game.
"It's a battle with that lineup over there, trying to pitch your way through it," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "You know you're going to have those battles with a lineup like that and, unfortunately for us, we couldn't finish them off."