Ortiz joins 30-homer club for 8th time

BOSTON -- David Ortiz led off the third inning Wednesday night at Fenway Park with a first-pitch home run, his 30th of the season, the eighth time in his career that he has hit 30 or more home runs in a season.

All eight of Ortiz's 30-homer seasons have come in a Red Sox uniform, tying him with Hall of Famer Ted Williams for most all-time by a Boston player.

Ortiz hit exactly 30 home runs in 137 games last season. At his current pace, he would finish with 39 home runs, the most he has hit in a season since he hit a club-record 54 home runs in 2006.

"He wants to be the guy at the plate in a big situation, and I think everybody wants the same thing. That's vintage David," Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz said.

Ortiz hit a fastball from Angels reliever Cory Rasmus off the back wall of the visitors' bullpen 401 feet away to lead off the third. Rasmus had entered the game with two outs in the second inning in place of Angels starter Garrett Richards, who was taken off the field on a stretcher with what appeared to be a serious injury to his left knee.

The home run was the 461st of Ortiz's career. His next home run will tie him with Jose Canseco for 34th place on the all-time list.

Ortiz becomes the 13th player in major league history 38 years old or older to hit 30 or more home runs in a season. The last was Hall of Famer Frank Thomas, who was 38 when he hit 39 home runs for Oakland in 2006.

"He's an elite hitter. He's professional in his approach. He doesn't give at-bats away," Red Sox manager John Farrell said after the game.

Only one 40-year-old in major league history has hit 30 or more home runs in a season: Darrell Evans, who was 40 in 1987 when he hit 34 home runs for the Detroit Tigers.

Hall of Famer Hank Aaron has the most 30-home run seasons in a career with 15. There are 26 players who have had nine or more 30-homer seasons.

Ortiz had gone through a stretch of 13 games with just one home run but now has hit four in his past five games, including two against the Houston Astros on Saturday night. He also homered Tuesday night against the Angels.

In his previous eight games entering play Wednesday night, Ortiz had posted a .375/.475/.750/1.225 slash line. He had a broken-bat single in the first before unloading off Rasmus in the third and singling in the fifth and again in the seventh. He finished 4-for-4, Farrell opting to lift his slugger for pinch hitter Alex Hassan in the ninth inning of Boston's 8-3 loss. Farrell said he wanted to protect Ortiz.

"He was starting to get a little sore. He's obviously been on base a lot this entire series. He's started to get some tightness, precautionary got him out of there," Farrell said.

Information from ESPNBoston.com's Kyle Brasseur contributed to this report.