As soon as the ball fell beyond the wall in right-center field for his 20th career grand slam, Ramirez stuck his arms in the air and began the slow trot around the bases that gave the Red Sox a six-run lead en route to their 7-4 win over the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night.
"Manny does what Manny does, it's incredible," manager Terry Francona said. "He has a knack for that. He stays on balls in those situations. He's an RBI guy. He smells them, it's unbelievable."
His third grand slam this season was his 22nd homer, tying him with Texas' Mark Teixeira for the AL lead. It pushed his majors-leading RBI total to 77.
The 20 grand slams are the second-most in major-league history, trailing only Lou Gehrig's 23. Hall of Famer Eddie Murray had 19.
David Ortiz and Bill Mueller also homered for the Red Sox, all in the first three innings for a 7-0 lead. Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield (8-5) provided a huge boost for the pitching staff by going eight innings in his 300th major-league start.
"When you get that kind of a lead, it makes my job a lot easier," said Wakefield, 4-0 in six starts since a five-game losing streak. "Knowing our circumstances here with our bullpen, it's just a matter of getting the job done."
Wakefield held Texas to four runs on eight hits, improving his career record to 136-117.
"He kept that drama out of that game," Francona said.
Foulke, 5-5 with a 6.23 ERA, blew his second save in a week Monday night when Texas scored twice in the ninth for a 6-5 win. He has 15 saves and has blown four other chances.
The grand slam came with no outs in the third off Chris Young (8-5). After an error, a single and a walk, Ramirez hit a ball that just cleared the wall on a rare almost-windless night in Texas.
"The way it sounded, I didn't think it was a home run," Young said. "But he's exceptionally strong and got enough of it."
Ramirez left without talking to reporters.
"He thought it was out by the way he reacted. He's a good judge of it," Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. "He's a smart hitter. He doesn't miss many mistakes."
Two batters later, Mueller's fourth homer chased the rookie pitcher.
Boston never trailed after Ortiz hit a two-run shot in the first, his 20th homer. That scored Johnny Damon, whose leadoff single extended his career-best hitting streak to 21 games and matched the longest in the majors this season.
Even after losing five of its previous seven games, Boston began the second half of the 162-game schedule leading the AL East for the first time since 2001. The Red Sox have a 3½-game lead over slumping Baltimore and the New York Yankees are just a half-game further back.
Pitching ace Curt Schilling rejoined his teammates Tuesday, but it seems unlikely he'll return to the rotation this week as he had been on track to do before struggling in two rehabilitation starts.
When Ramirez and Ortiz are hitting like they did Tuesday, the pitching isn't as much of a concern. Ortiz is second in the AL with 70 RBI.
Four other sets of Boston teammates have had 20 homers each before the All-Star break, but Ramirez and Ortiz are the first to accomplish the feat in consecutive seasons. The only other current teammates with 20 homers each are Teixeira and Alfonso Soriano (20).
Young lasted just 2 1/3 innings, the shortest outing in 24 career starts, 17 this season. He gave up seven runs -- six earned -- with two walks and three strikeouts. His ERA increased from 3.33 to 3.80.
Young is scheduled to start Sunday against Toronto, giving him one more chance to become the first Rangers rookie to have nine wins before the All-Star break.
- Darin Erstad of the Los Angeles Angels had a 21-game hitting streak from May 28-June 21.
- Young has given up eight homers the last four games, after just four long balls against him the first 13.
- LHP Ron Mahay worked 3 2/3 innings in relief of Young, with five strikeouts and allowing only an infield single.