John Lackey has watched David Ortiz wreak destruction on playoff opponents before.
He finally got a chance to see it from the same dugout.
"I like it a lot better on this side, that’s for sure," Lackey said after Ortiz hit two homers to lead the Red Sox to a 7-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday and give Boston a 2-0 lead in the AL division series.
It was the first two-homer postseason game for Ortiz, who is the only player remaining from the 2004 Red Sox team that won the franchise’s first World Series title in 86 years. He was also a star of the ’07 team that won it all; both times, they opened the playoffs by eliminating Lackey’s Los Angeles Angels.
"He’s tough this time of year — any time of year," Lackey said. "He’s a guy that likes bright lights, for sure."
Jacoby Ellsbury had three hits and scored three runs for the AL East champions. Dustin Pedroia drove in three runs, and Lackey earned the win in his first postseason start since joining the Red Sox as a free agent in 2010.
Ortiz hit his first homer in the first inning, then his second in the eighth to chase Rays starter David Price.
"As long as we win, it means a lot," Ortiz said. "It’s not over. We’ve got to keep on fighting."
Tampa Bay will need a victory in Game 3 on Monday in St. Petersburg, Fla., to avoid a sweep in the best-of-five series. The Rays won three win-or-go-home games this week just to reach this round, including Price’s complete game in the tiebreaker against Texas to determine the second AL wild-card team.
"I’m really looking forward to Game 5 here," said Rays manager Joe Maddon, knowing the Rays would have to win the next two to force the series to the limit. "We just went through a week of (our) backs against the wall, so it’s not new to us. It’s going to be difficult. … But I don’t think it’s impossible by any means."
"Boston this time of the year is kind of lovely, and I’m looking forward to coming back in a few days."
With the situation not yet desperate, Price allowed seven runs on nine hits and two walks, striking out five. He took the mound for the eighth inning, but Ortiz hit his second pitch high over the Pesky Pole, and right-field umpire Chris Guccione signaled it fair.
"When he hits two home runs, things are going to revolve around him," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "He’s the main cog in our lineup."
There was no such suspense for Ortiz’s first homer, which went into Boston bullpen to make it 2-0. Not even right fielder Wil Myers, who misplayed a Big Papi popup into a double in right field in Boston’s 12-2 win on Friday, could be blamed for that one.
Every Red Sox starter had a hit and scored a run in Game 1. In the sequel, everyone in the starting lineup got a hit except Mike Napoli, who drew two walks.
Lackey lasted 5 1-3 innings for Boston, allowing four runs on seven hits and three walks. He struck out six and also hit a batter while getting the win. Koji Uehara struck out the first two batters in the ninth before retiring Myers on a grounder.
The most visible — but hardly the only –defensive goat in Game 1, Myers was razzed by the Fenway Park crowd during every at-bat. The Rays rookie drew a sarcastic cheer after catching an easy fly ball in the fifth, but he had no real problems in the field.
Not so for the rest of the Rays. They committed two errors — a throwing error by second baseman Ben Zobrist and one by catcher Jose Molina in the first, when Ellsbury stole second and took third on the throw.
It was that kind of night for Ellsbury, who missed most of September with a broken right foot. After hitting a single and scoring in the first, he reached on a bloop double behind the third baseman in the third to drive in a run, moved up on Shane Victorino’s single and scored on Pedroia’s grounder.
He also singled to lead off the fifth and scored on Pedroia’s double.
Tampa Bay made it 6-4 on Yuniel Escobar’s single, but Ortiz gave Boston back its cushion with a high fly ball that sailed over the right field foul pole that sits just 302 feet from home plate. Escobar, James Loney and Desmond Jennings each had two hits for Tampa Bay.
NOTES: The Red Sox also beat the Rays in Game 1 of their last playoff matchup, the 2008 AL championship series. Tampa Bay won Game 2 and won the series in seven games. … Victorino broke up a double play in the third by upending Ben Zobrist at second base. … Stephen Drew had an RBI triple in the Boston fourth.