With its season nearing an end Monday night, Boston again turned to David Ortiz, its most passionate and dangerous player, to help start the type of rally that has come to define the Red Sox. Ortiz's eighth-inning, leadoff home run gave Boston a pulse against the New York Yankees, and his 14th-inning, game-winning single against Esteban Loaiza kept the Red Sox alive.
Boston sent the American League Championship Series back to New York with a thrilling 5-4, Game 5 win against the Yankees at Fenway Park. At 5 hours 49 minutes, it was the longest playoff game by time in history. Though the Red Sox trail 3-2 in the series, momentum appears to be with them. Boston, with a second comeback in two days, is still in contention because of Ortiz, nicknamed "Big Papi," which means "Big Daddy" in Spanish.
"All I do is hit," said Ortiz, the designated hitter who fouled off five two-strike pitches before his game-winning single. "I don't go out there and make a play for the team on the field."
One thought raced through Ortiz's mind as he rounded first base, just as Johnny Damon ran home from second base to win it, and was met by a crowd of teammates for the second straight game.
"I feel like I want to get to the World Series and win," Ortiz said.
It is no longer so laughable to think the Red Sox can get there.
Boston's Curt Schilling will start against the Yankees' Jon Lieber on Tuesday at 8 p.m. A win by Schilling would send the series to a seventh game.
"The pressure is on them," Damon said. "No team has come back from 0-3."
The game turned absurd upon entering its fifth hour. Ortiz, who has just four stolen bases in an eight-year career, was caught stealing in the 12th inning to halt a rally. Loaiza, New York's final reliever, pitched 31/3 innings of strong relief before Ortiz's single. The Yankees had so little regard for Loaiza, they only kept him on their roster in case Orlando Hernandez was unable to pitch.
The Yankees tried to rally in the 13th inning when Gary Sheffield advanced to first base after striking out against Tim Wakefield. Jason Varitek, unfamiliar with catching Wakefield, could not handle the knuckleball on the third strike. It was one of three passed balls in the inning.
However, the Yankees did not score in the inning because Ruben Sierra struck out with runners on second and third. The teams combined to use 14 pitchers in the game.
"I'm definitely going to need help walking to the hotel," Damon said. "I'm worn out. But it's worth it."
New York stranded 17 runners and was 1 for 13 with men in scoring position. The middle of its lineup, which entered hitting .458 (33 for 72) against Boston pitching, had just one hit. Alex Rodriguez had an opportunity to extend New York's lead to three runs in the eighth, but struck out with a man on third base and one out.
"I'm not sure these two games, other than being frustrated as hell, change how we feel about ourselves," Yankees Manager Joe Torre said. "You know, if they had beat us up, you know, lopsided two games in a row I would say that's one thing. But these games, back and forth, it was a matter of a pitch, a hit, a run."
New York had taken a 4-2 lead against Red Sox starter Pedro Martinez on Derek Jeter's three-run double in the sixth inning. But Boston rallied in the eighth.
Ortiz opened the inning with a solo homer against Tom Gordon. Kevin Millar followed with a walk and Dave Roberts, pinch-running for Millar, went to third on a single up the middle by Trot Nixon. Torre then turned to closer Mariano Rivera, who allowed a sacrifice fly to Varitek, tying the game at 4. It was the second blown save in as many nights for Rivera.
Since the beginning of last year, Rivera has 89 saves in 96 chances against every other team but the Red Sox. Against Boston, Rivera has six blown saves in 15 chances, including one in Sunday's 12th-inning loss.
The Yankees got busy in the ninth inning against Boston closer Keith Foulke. With two outs, Sierra drew a walk. Tony Clark followed with a double to right field. Boston received a fortunate bounce when the ball hopped into the crowd. If the ball had not bounced over the fence, Sierra certainly would have scored to give the Yankees a one-run lead. Instead, Miguel Cairo popped out to first base to end the inning. In the past two days, Foulke has thrown four innings of scoreless relief.
It appeared the Yankees were intent on making Martinez throw a lot of pitches. At 32, Martinez tires almost immediately after reaching 100 pitches. Batters have a .444 batting average against Martinez the past two postseasons once he reaches the 100-pitch mark.
Bernie Williams's solo home run in the second had been the only run against Martinez heading into the sixth inning, when his pitch count stood at a safe 82 pitches. In the fifth, Martinez had shown a hint of his old venom by throwing a pitch near the head of Hideki Matsui, who had pounded Red Sox pitching in this series. Matsui fell quickly to the ground. He lined out to first base to end the inning.
Martinez retired the first batter in the sixth but allowed singles to Jorge Posada and Sierra. Martinez struck out Clark for the second out of the inning, then hit Miguel Cairo in the shoulder with his 96th pitch of the game to load the bases for Jeter. After the first two pitches, the count was 1-1. On his 99th pitch, Martinez blazed a 90-mph fastball past Jeter. But on the 100th pitch by Martinez, Jeter lined a double down the first base line that cleared the bases and gave New York a 4-2 lead. But Ortiz led the furious comeback.
"The Yankees really have to think about who is their big Papi," Martinez said.