BOSTON -- When they returned from a disjointed road trip, the Red Sox set a simple goal to try to start winning series again. With Wednesday's 11-6 win in the rubber match of a three-game set against the Rangers, they improved to 2-for-2 in their quest on this homestand.
On a hot and sticky night, the Boston bats stung the ball around Fenway Park, breaking out to an 11-1 lead after four innings.
Lefty Martin Perez had a tough night for Texas, getting pounded for nine hits and 11 runs (seven earned) over four innings. The Rangers' infield defense didn't help Perez, committing three errors in a five-run second inning.
"I have never seen that ballclub make that many errors," said Ortiz. "They've got a great defense. It's one of those days where things didn't work out. And you know how good-hitting ballclubs are. When they make a mistake, we make you pay."
Texas mounted a late rally that fell short, with Prince Fielder ripping a two-run homer in the sixth, an inning before Ian Desmond plated two with a triple.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Ortiz mauls No. 20: The one thing the Red Sox haven't been able to do much of late is play with a lead early in games, but Wright gave them a chance with a scoreless top of the first. Ortiz stepped to the plate in the bottom of the inning and delivered an impressive two-run shot to right-center that soared over the Red Sox's bullpen, well into the bleachers. According to Statcast™, the ball traveled a projected distance of 435 feet from the plate -- Ortiz's second longest this season -- with an exit velocity of 113 mph. It was Ortiz's 20th homer, marking the 15th straight season he's reached that number.
"Last night, I felt like I was kind of using my bottom hand too much, but it happens," said Ortiz. "That's part of the game. That's why the season is so long. I like making adjustments real quick, real fast."
Clumsy, costly errors: The Red Sox had no problem taking advantage of Texas' three crucial errors in the second inning. Second baseman Rougned Odor, shortstop Elvis Andrus and third baseman Adrian Beltre, a four-time Gold Glove Award winner, bobbled grounders in the pivotal frame. As a team, Texas has 46 errors on the season.
"That second inning is something we haven't seen since last year. The reality is, we're probably not going to see it again. We've got some outstanding defenders. They handle the baseball very well," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. More >
Kimbrel asks for ball: After one of the worst outings of his career on Tuesday night in a non-save situation, Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel told manager John Farrell he wanted to pitch on Wednesday, regardless of the score. Kimbrel came on with a five-run lead and worked around two walks while also striking out two. The righty has struggled in non-save situations for most of the season.
"I think more than anything, it's [the need] to pitch regardless of the score," said Farrell. "Easier said than done at times. A pitcher's No. 1 job is to execute a pitch in a moment, regardless of the inning or situation. He was able to do that much better tonight." More >
Dominant debut: Right-hander Jose Leclerc, the Rangers' No. 23 prospect, entered for his Major League debut in the fifth inning with his team trailing by 10 runs. Instead of adding to the deficit, the 22-year-old pitched like a natural. Leclerc, who joined the Rangers in Boston on Tuesday, allowed just one hit and two walks while striking out four in 2 2/3 innings against the Majors' top offense at an unforgiving ballpark. Of the 51 pitches Leclerc threw, 31 were strikes.
"I was most proud of young Leclerc," Banister said. "It didn't look like he was overwhelmed at all. He went out there and obviously threw some strikes and faced some big hitters. We watched a young guy become a big leaguer and have a grow-up night for himself, and it was fun. We got a little smile out of him when we took him off the mound tonight."
Wright starts strong, falters late: For the second time in two starts, Wright didn't allow an earned run over the first five innings. And for the second time in two starts, he labored thereafter. This time, Wright gave up two in the sixth and three in the seventh to turn what had been shaping up as a rout into a five-run game.
"Once we got up 8-0 or 9-0, me and [catcher Ryan Hanigan] talked about trying to get ahead with fastballs," Wright said. "Tonight, that last inning, I told myself I wasn't going to walk anybody. I don't want to give up runs, but I'm not going to walk anybody."
"[The errors] are uncharacteristic because they have been playing defense so ultra-competitive and well this year. I don't know. Maybe we'll check everybody's horoscope tonight." -- Banister, on the Rangers' rare second-inning lapses
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Fielder's 319th career home run tied his father Cecil Fielder's career total (116th all time).
"It's definitely a cool thing to do [at Fenway Park]," Fielder said. "I wish we could have won, but it definitely is a good feeling."
Ortiz became the 15th player 40 or older to hit 20 home runs in a season.
WHAT'S NEXT Rangers: Texas returns home for the opener of a four-game series against Minnesota on Thursday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez will try to bounce back from his latest start, also against the Twins. In that effort, the shortest start of his career, the righty lasted just two-thirds of an inning and gave up four runs (one earned).
Red Sox: Following an off-day on Thursday, the Red Sox will open their final series of the first half on Friday night at Fenway Park against the Rays. Right-hander Sean O'Sullivan, coming off a win, will make the start. The Rays will counter with ace right-hander Chris Archer. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.