Papi goes deep, five homers from 500

Papi goes deep, five homers from 500

BOSTON -- David Ortiz's race to 500 homers keeps churning forward, and the Red Sox slugger is so close that Fenway Park already sports a banner above the Green Monster tracking his career home runs.

In the fourth inning of Monday night's 4-3 win over the Yankees, Ortiz changed his display from 494 to 495 when he smacked an outside 1-1 changeup from Ivan Nova off the padded wall atop the Monster. The blast gave Ortiz 29 on the season and nine in the month of August.

The Sox may not be playing for the postseason, but Ortiz's magic number is down to five, and the sudden chase has those around Boston wondering if he can break onto that lofty plateau before the season ends.

"It's exciting for every one of us," Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo said. "He's downplaying it in his typical David humble way to not make a distraction. He doesn't want to make it about himself. He wants to make it about the team and how we're playing right now, but it's exciting for all of us to walk in every day.

"It's bigger than a lot of things that are happening right now, and it'll be fun if he gets that 500th."

Ortiz nearly went yard again two innings later, when he drove another Nova pitch off the upper reaches of the Monster for a double. He finished 2-for-3 with a walk and passed Goose Goslin for 33rd place on the all-time RBI list with 1,613. The double, No. 573 of Ortiz's career, also pushed him ahead of Ivan Rodriguez for 23rd-most in baseball history.

"We know about it, but we obviously don't want to talk about it or anything," center fielder Mookie Betts said of Ortiz's milestones. "We just kind of let it play out and let him do what he does."

Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.