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Ortiz sets franchise record for homers

Sep 22, 2006 - 2:22 AM BOSTON (Ticker) -- The Minnesota Twins had their sights set on sole possession of first place. David Ortiz had his sight set on a piece of history.

Ortiz established a franchise record for homers in a season with blasts No. 51 and 52 to power the Boston Red Sox to a 6-0 victory over the Twins.

With the Red Sox (82-71) all but eliminated from the playoff race, much of the excitement around Fenway Park surrounds Ortiz, who entered Thursday night tied with Jimmie Foxx for the franchise mark of 50 homers. Foxx set the record in 1938.

Ortiz provided the new mark when he crushed the first pitch he saw from Johan Santana into the right field seats with two outs in the bottom of the first inning. "Big Papi" added to the record with a blast into the center field seats in the seventh inning against Matt Guerrier.

"I really thought it was good for our organization," Ortiz said. "I really thought it was good for the game of baseball, especially with all the stuff going on with people believing that there's a lot of players using things that you're not allowed to."

Ortiz circled the bases and was greeted by teammates who emerged from the dugout. "Big Papi" then received a hug from Red Sox legend Johnny Pesky, who was Foxx's teammate for part of the 1942 season.

The first homer was Ortiz's 44th homer as a designated hitter, breaking the major league record that he set last year.

"I think wherever he did it would have been great, but here the fans have been able to show their appreciation," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "I think it meant a lot to him."

A former Twin, Ortiz also received praise from Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.

"If you take a guy on their team that anybody in this clubhouse would like to see break records it would be David Ortiz," Gardenhire said. "He is a good friend to a lot of people in this clubhouse, including me, and very well respected. Even though he whacked us tonight, I still tip my hat to him because what a year."

The record-setting night by Ortiz denied the Twins (90-62) a chance to move into sole possession of first place in the American League Central Division for the first time this season. Detroit (91-62) lost to Baltimore, 4-3, earlier Thursday to allow Minnesota to move into a first-place tie.

"Our goal is still to catch the Tigers, we are right there, we've had a couple of opportunities and if we could get a win we can tie them or get a half a game ahead but it has not worked out yet," Gardenhire said.

It also was a surprisingly rough outing for Santana (18-6), who had been 9-0 since the All-Star break to establish himself as one of the leading contenders for the Cy Young Award. The lefthander went just five innings to match a season low and allowed four runs - two earned - and six hits with three walks and three strikeouts.

"I tried to battle through it, I did not feel that all my pitches were working," Santana said. "Even though I threw some good pitches, they made me work a lot in the beginning of the game, and I threw too many pitches and when that happens you are going to have to come out of the game sooner than what you want."

Santana also had a costly throwing error in the second inning that allowed two runs to score as Boston took a 3-0 lead.

The early lead proved to be enough for Josh Beckett (16-10), who gave up six hits in eight outstanding innings. The hard-throwing righthander struck out five without a walk.

"It doesn't matter who we're playing, on my day I just want to go out there and keep my team in the ballgame and eventually get the team a win," said Beckett, who set a career high in wins. "We played great defense, got some timely hits and obviously some big home runs from some of our guys."

After Ortiz put the Red Sox in front in the first, the Red Sox added a pair of runs in the second.

Carlos Pena and Gabe Kapler opened the inning with singles. Alex Gonzalez put down a bunt and Santana bobbled the ball, then threw it past first baseman Justin Morneau to allow two runs to score. Mark Loretta lofted a sacrifice later in the frame for a 4-0 advantage.

Beckett endured his first trouble in the third after the Twins sandwiched two singles around a strikeout. But Beckett got Joe Mauer, who leads the AL in hitting, to bounce into an inning-ending double play.

"He was coming after guys, he made pitches when he had too, he has great stuff and he just had a good night," Mauer said.

In the seventh, Beckett again was helped by a double play. Michael Cuddyer opened the inning by reaching on an error by Gonzalez at shortstop before Morneau singled. But Beckett induced Torii Hunter into a double play and got Rondell White on a lineout.

"I think Beckett was the story of the night, he was really good and pretty much dominated our lineup," Gardenhire said.

Ortiz homered off Matt Guerrier with one out in the bottom of the inning and Mike Lowell followed with his 18th blast of the season to cap the scoring.

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