David Ortiz laced a game-tying RBI single immediately before Ramirez launched the go-ahead two-run homer into the Green Monster seats in the eighth inning Saturday as the Sox came back to beat the Rangers, 5-3, in front of another sellout crowd of 37,958 at Fenway Park Saturday.
"It's just nice to get the game tied," Francona told reporters afterward. "We have [Hideki Okajima] and ‘Pap' [Jonathan Papelbon], we're at home. We didn't have the lead for very long, but it was long enough and it was at the right time."
The Sox scored twice in the first inning to take a 2-1 lead, but the Rangers scored once apiece in the second and third. That held up through seven innings as Jason Jennings and Jamey Wright stymied the Sox, but Joaquin Benoit gave up the lead in a span of just five pitches in the eighth. With one out, Dustin Pedroia doubled. Ortiz hit the next pitch into the shift in short right field, but the ball squirted under the glove of second baseman Ian Kinsler and Pedroia scored the tying run.
Ramirez then crushed Benoit's 0-1 pitch off a bank of lights atop the Green Monster. That was more than enough for closer Jonathan Papelbon, who allowed a hit in the ninth but needed just 10 pitches—nine strikes—to record his sixth save.
"Especially when you have to pitch to David and you know Manny's coming up next, that's what keeps us in the ballgame at all times," Papelbon told reporters afterward. "If those guys are coming up late in the ballgame, those games are never over."
Sox starter Jon Lester pitched into the seventh inning for the second time in five starts this season, but he pitched out of jams all night as he allowed three runs on 10 hits and two walks while striking out five. A quartet of relievers combined to allow just three hits over the final 2 2/3 innings. Javier Lopez earned the win by needing just one pitch to retire the only batter he faced, Josh Hamilton, to end the top of the eighth.
Sox mourn Marzano: The Sox observed a moment of silence before the game in the memory of John Marzano, who died following a fall at his home earlier Saturday. Marzano, 45, was selected by the Sox in the first round of the 1984 draft (14th overall) out of Temple and was a member of the Olympic baseball team that year. He played for the Sox from 1987 through 1992 and later played for the Rangers and Mariners. He hit .241 with 11 homers and 72 RBI in 794 at-bats between 1987 and 1998.
Marzano was working as an on-air host for MLB.com at the time of his death and was reportedly scheduled to cover the Patriots Day game Monday at Fenway. He leaves behind his wife Terri, his children Dominique and Danielle and two grandchildren.
"The same preparation and engaging personality that marked his time as a player in Boston carried over to his duties with the media," the Sox said in a written statement. "We express our heartfelt sympathies to John's family and friends at this very difficult time."
Diehard managing editor Jerry Beach can be reached at email@example.com. To receive a free issue of Diehard, call 888-501-5752.
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