BOSTON -- With a flair for the dramatic and a litany of game-winning hits that propelled the Boston Red Sox to two World Series championships, David Ortiz earned his reputation as one of baseball's best sluggers and a player who comes through in the clutch.
Ortiz Rallies In Boston
David Ortiz hit his 24th regular-season, go-ahead home run in the seventh inning or later as a member of the Red Sox, but this was his first since April 30, 2008.
Most Career RBIs in Red Sox History
* Passed Foxx on Thursday
On Thursday, he proved equally adept at handling off-the-field pressure.Hours after a reporter "blindsided" him with the news that he was on the list of more than 100 major leaguers who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003, Ortiz hit a go-ahead homer that sent the Red Sox to an 8-5 victory over the Oakland Athletics."Right now, I have no answers," Ortiz said in the clubhouse afterward, his eyes hidden behind dark sunglasses. "I'm going to get to the bottom of this."The New York Times, citing unidentified lawyers with knowledge of the results, reported just before Thursday's game that Ortiz was on the list of players who came up positive during survey testing six years ago. The list was supposed to be confidential, and Ortiz claimed that he didn't know he was on it until a reporter informed him before the game."This happened right before our game, and the news blindsided me," he said in a statement handed out by the Red Sox media relations department but without the team's logo or letterhead. "Based on the way I have lived my life, I'm surprised to learn I tested positive. ... You know me -- I will not hide and I will not make excuses."But if the news bothered him, he didn't show it during the game."I know David," said former Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, who had three hits for the A's. "That guy is just a solid individual and cares about the game and what he does and I just hope for him he's doing all right. He did all right today."Ortiz doubled and scored Boston's first run in the second inning, then walked and hustled to second on a wild pitch in the sixth. He came up again in the seventh with two on and two outs and Boston trailing 5-3, well on its way to a three-game losing streak that would have been its first at Fenway Park in more than a year.Ortiz hit a 1-2 pitch from Craig Breslow (4-5) to right-center, over the Red Sox bullpen and to the right of the 420 foot sign that marks the deepest part of the ballpark. The sold-out crowd rose for a standing ovation that didn't stop until Ortiz came out of the dugout for a curtain call."I believe David will be OK," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "I didn't have time in the seventh inning to think about someone's mental capabilities. I was just glad the ball left the ballpark."Manny Delcarmen (3-2) got four outs for the win, Daniel Bard pitched a perfect eighth and Jonathan Papelbon worked the ninth for his 26th save.Many of the fans had not yet heard of the newspaper report; if they did, they did not hold back their support for the slugger who was a key part of Boston's 2004 and '07 World Series titles. (Exiled outfielder Manny Ramirez, who was on both those teams and was the Series MVP in '04, was also reported to be on the drug list.)Ortiz's teammates stood to greet him with high-fives in the dugout, and they said afterward that they would stand behind him. Many bristled at the suggestion that the World Series titles were tainted."I so want to get past this," third baseman Mike Lowell said. "I don't feel bad about winning the World Series, and I'm not going to give any of the rings back."Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said the team admired Ortiz's willingness to address the allegations -- when he has more answers -- and keep the story from becoming a distraction in the clubhouse."The organization supports him. His teammates support him. It's easy to support him with the approach he's taking," Epstein said. "I've known him for a long time. I respect him as a person. I care about him. He's meant a lot to us and our organization. We fully support him."
Boston won for just the fourth time in 12 games. ... Jon Lester allowed four runs on seven hits and three walks, striking out two in 5 2/3 innings. Oakland starter Gio Gonzalez gave up three runs on five hits and four walks, striking out eight before leaving with one on and one out and the A's leading 4-2. ... Jacoby Ellsbury was held without a hit after six straight multihit games. He was also caught stealing for the eighth time in 54 tries.