BOSTON David Ortiz broke a career-high 149 at-bat homerless drought in a six-run fifth inning, Brad Penny pitched his best game of the season and the Boston Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays 8-3 on Wednesday night.
Jason Varitek, Jason Bay and Mike Lowell also homered in the fifth off rookie left-hander Brett Cecil (2-1), but Ortiz's shot just to the left of straightaway centre drew the loudest roar from fans who waited a long time since his last homer Sept. 22.
The home run by the slugger who hit 112 the past three years drew a standing ovation. As he crossed the plate, he pointed to the sky twice, clapped his hands and was hugged by Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis.
Then Ortciz clapped his hands once and was embraced by manager Terry Francona in the dugout before taking a curtain call.
Ortiz also doubled to left-center in the eighth but was stranded. He struck out twice and grounded weakly to first base in his other three at-bats and is 11-for-59 in his last 16 games, dropping his batting average from .238 to .210. He started Wednesday at .203
The second-place Red Sox cut the Blue Jays' lead in the AL East to 11/2 games with their second win in two days over Toronto.
Penny (4-1) went 6 2-3 innings, his longest outing of the season, and held the Blue Jays scoreless on five hits through six innings. Then he allowed two runs on four hits in the seventh on a run-scoring single by Rod Barajas and a double-play grounder by Marco Scutaro that brought in the second run.
Boston center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury tied a major league record with 12 putouts by an outfielder in a nine-inning game, previously done by Earl Clark of the Boston Braves in 1929 and Lyman Bostock of the Minnesota Twins in 1977, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
Boston took a 2-0 lead in the third on a solo homer by Varitek and a double-play grounder by Pedroia that scored Julio Lugo, who had doubled.
Cecil was solid through four innings then gave up Varitek's seventh homer of the season leading off the fifth. Lugo grounded out and Ellsbury walked but was thrown out at home on Pedroia's double, Then Ortiz connected on a 1-1 pitch, giving Boston a 5-0 lead.
Youkilis, who went 3-for-5 after being activated from the disabled list before the game, then singled. Bay followed with his 12th homer and Lowell, hitting next, hit his seventh.
Lyle Overbay doubled in Toronto's last run in the eighth.