Ortiz Busts Out As Sox Sweep A's

David Ortiz snapped out of his season-opening slump in a hurry Wednesday.

Ortiz, who was 0-for-11 in the Red Sox' first three games, recorded his first hit of the year with a single in the fifth inning before he launched a two-run homer in the seventh to break a scoreless tie and catapult the Sox to a 5-0 win over the Athletics in Oakland.

The homer was the first in any game this season for Ortiz, who didn't go deep in 36 exhibition season at-bats. "It feels good, man," Ortiz told reporters afterward. "I've been fighting a lot of stuff right now. It's still early in the season, so I can put myself together. I've been fighting through with my balance and recognizing pitches. In spring training, I wasn't having fun like I normally do. At the beginning of the season [in Japan], it was the same way."

The Sox swept the two-game mini-series in Oakland and will close out their around-the-world adventure with a three-game series in Toronto starting Friday. "We just kind of showed up to win today," Terry Francona told reporters afterward. "We try to do that or what we did [Tuesday] ends up not mattering anymore. It makes a moderately long flight seem a lot better."

Ortiz hit the homer off former teammate Alan Embree, who was tagged with the loss. "Regardless of what David has done in the first few games, he always has that one swing in his bat," Francona said. "He knows that. I'm sure they do, too. Last night, he was just lifting a little bit. He went into ‘BP' today and just started staying through the ball. And he's strong enough where if he puts the head on it, he can drive one out of the ballpark. And we needed it today."

The Sox added insurance in the eighth off another former teammate, Lenny DiNardo, who gave up singles to the first four batters he faced. Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis each had an RBI single in the eighth before Jason Varitek homered off Huston Street in the ninth for the Sox' final run.

Jon Lester, like Daisuke Matsuzaka Tuesday, pitched much better in his second start of the season than in his debut. Lester earned the win by allowing three hits and three walks and striking out three over 6 2/3 innings. He retired 10 in a row before he was chased by an Emil Brown single. Bryan Corey allowed one hit and struck out two in 1 1/3 innings before Manny Delcarmen threw a perfect ninth inning.

"He was able to utilize both sides of the plate," Varitek told reporters, referring to Lester. "He's got that powerful cutter and was able to bore in on hitters, but he opened up the whole plate, the other side of the plate. He got a lot of ground balls and a lot of sinkers, and he didn't have to throw as many cutters, which was a beautiful thing."

Six players—Ortiz, Varitek, Pedroia, Youkilis, Coco Crisp and Alex Cora—had two hits apiece for the Sox.

Diehard managing editor Jerry Beach can be reached at diehardmag@yahoo.com. To receive a free issue of Diehard, call 888-501-5752.

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