With one on and one out in the first inning, Ortiz blasted a monster shot off Rays starter Chris Archer to right field, giving the Boston Red Sox a 2-0 lead. That would be the only runs the Sox would need as they went on to win 2-1.
The historic home run pushed Ortiz past "Shoeless" Joe Jackson for most RBIs in a final season (124) while adding to his own record of home runs in a farewell year (37). The hit also moved him ahead of Red Sox Hall of Famer Harry Hooper on the all-time list (2,464) and tied him with another Hall of Famer, Lou Gehrig, for the 10th-most extra-base hits (1,190).
Ortiz, hitting .320/.406/.635 with 85 extra-base hits on the season, temporarily passed "The Iron Horse" in the seventh inning on what was initially ruled a double to deep center field. However, upon Tampa Bay's challenge, he was ruled out because he came off the bag with the tag still applied.
The final matchup against Archer marks the end of a spirited rivalry, with Ortiz emerging as the decided victor. He ends his career with a .375 average against the righthander, with 15 hits, including four home runs. Archer's first-inning fastball -- clocked in at 96 mph -- was hit 411 feet in the opposite direction at a speed of 107 mph. Archer has lost 11 straight against Boston.
"I'm not trying to be funny, but I'm really glad I never have to face that guy again," Archer said. "I mean, he's a really good hitter, and I feel like we've gotten the best of each other and, I think, in terms of baseball, he's gotten the best of me more than I got the best of him. So I'm glad I never have to face that guy again."
The Ortiz home run would be all that the American League-leading Red Sox would need on the scoreboard -- although Mookie Betts did have a three-hit night that pushed him to the top of the MLB leaderboard. Betts is riding a 10-game hit streak, batting .473 over that span. His 65 multihit games also pace the league.
Boston received a solid start from the recently struggling Drew Pomeranz. Acquired on July 14 from San Diego, the left-hander had allowed nine runs over his previous two starts, lasting a combined 5⅔ innings. It was the first time he had gone consecutive games with four innings or less since 2012.
"It was his fastball command down in the strike zone, which was much improved tonight over his previous two starts," manager John Farrell said.
Already at his career high in innings pitched, Pomeranz threw just 78 pitches, but that was good for the win in five innings of work. He allowed one run -- a home run to Mikie Mahtook -- while striking out four and walking none. He started the game strongly, hitting 94 mph on the in-stadium radar, before finishing the contest with softer stuff. In his final inning of work, he threw 16 straight pitches that were classified as changeups (Pomeranz and Farrell both said these were actually two-seam fastballs) or curveballs before finishing his outing with two four-seam heaters.
The Boston bullpen has struggled at times during the year, but has hit a collective stride in the season's final month. The quintet of Joe Kelly, Robbie Ross Jr., Matt Barnes, Robby Scott and Brad Ziegler shut out the Rays over the final four frames to give the Red Sox their ninth straight win -- the club's longest winning streak in five years.
"You can't say enough of the run that entire group has been on," Farrell said after the game.
As a unit in September, the Sox pen has allowed just five runs in 58⅓ innings (0.78 ERA), stranding 23 of 24 inherited runners. Ziegler worked around a leadoff double in the ninth inning for his fourth save of the year in place of a resting Craig Kimbrel and Koji Uehara. He has not allowed a run in his last 16 appearances, spanning 13⅓ inning.
The win drops the Red Sox magic number in the East down to four. They can clinch a playoff berth as soon as tomorrow.