BOSTON -- Even after all these years, one of the most clutch hitters in Boston Red Sox history has never lost his flair for the dramatic -- and history.
Down to the game's last out, David Ortiz sent the game to extras with a feathery shot to left-center field that sailed just out of reach of Jake Marisnick's glove, an 0-1 blast on an 88-mph two-seamer off of Luke Gregerson that resulted in an RBI triple.
Then in the bottom of the 11th, Ortiz blasted a 2-2 changeup into the triangle in center field, scoring Xander Bogaerts from second and giving the Red Sox an epic 6-5 walkoff win, another high-watermark in a week of electric offense all around.
With his walk-off double, Ortiz joins Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron as just the third player in Major League Baseball history with 600 doubles and 500 home runs in his career.
George Springer gave Houston a 5-2 lead in the top of the second when he turned on a waist-high 90-mph cutter and launched a towering shot off the ThinkEnergy billboard hanging over left-center field, his second grand slam of the season. From there, the Red Sox slowly worked back into the game, backed by some quality middle innings from starter Clay Buchholz.
Ortiz launched a solo shot into the home bullpen in the bottom of the third, then Mookie Betts beat out a double play throw to first to score Rutledge and cut the Astros lead to 5-4.
Turning point: Who better than one of the Red Sox' greatest clutch hitters to turn the game on its ear in the ninth? Ortiz let out a Papi-sized roar, pumping his fists, after sliding into third safely to sew up the game-tying RBI triple.
Ryan Hanigan got the sellout crowd juiced in the top of the ninth with a pinpoint laser of a throw down the hole to catch Carlos Correa out trying to swipe second. Then in the bottom of the frame, Xander Bogaerts dribbled a grounder to short after working a 3-0 count, but beat the double play throw to first, to set up Ortiz's dramatic hit.
What it means: Since Sunday night's 5-1 series finale win over the Yankees, the Red Sox bats have been highly flammable, at an almost historic pace. This is their sixth straight game with at least 10 hits, dating back to Monday's 14-7 dismantling of Oakland that also kicked off a string of four straight wins in which they plated at least 10 runs.
Thumbs-up: Jackie Bradley Jr. finally got the move to the top of the lineup he'd been craving, hitting second as Dustin Pedroia had the day off. He reached safely for his 20th straight game, best in the majors so far in 2016, planting a 2-2 changeup in center field in the bottom of the first. Since the start of his hitting streak back on April 24, he is hitting .415.
Thumbs-down: While his final four innings were more than adequate, working backwards at times from his changeup and curveball to induce five strikeouts and a handful more of swinging strikes out of the zone, Clay Buchholz's first two innings were forgettable. Capped by Springer's grand slam, the pitching chart of Buchholz's second inning resembled something of a Jackson Pollack abstract, with spots all over the canvas. Of his first 50 pitches, only 29 were strikes.
What's next: The Red Sox wrap up an otherwise very productive homestand tomorrow with a getaway day game, before heading to Kansas City Monday for a three-game series against the defending World Series champions.