BOSTON -- Before David Ortiz finally ended the longest homerless streak of his career, he got some words of encouragement from his dad.
Enrique Ortiz had flown into town on Tuesday and "told me, 'Hey, son, it's not going to get worse than this so go out there, have fun and forget about what happened,'" Ortiz recalled.
It may be tough to hear your father say you've hit bottom, but Ortiz said he kept that in mind Wednesday night when he hit his first homer in 150 at-bats in the Boston Red Sox's 8-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
"I tried it all. I was about to hit right-handed," the lefty slugger said. "I feel like I just got that big old monkey off my back and [in] this game, sometimes that's all it takes to have a good at-bat, get a good hit and everything will start clicking."
Ortiz's homer was one of four off left-hander Brett Cecil (2-1) in a six-run fifth inning and one of five they hit in the game.
Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury caught 12 fly balls that Toronto kept in the park against Brad Penny (4-1), tying the major league record for most putouts in a nine-inning game by an outfielder. It was done previously by Earl Clark of the Boston Braves in 1929 and Lyman Bostock of the Minnesota Twins in 1977, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
"My legs felt a little tired," Ellsbury said. "I was just happy we were getting quick outs. Brad's a flyball pitcher and when he's getting the flyballs that means his pitch count's down [and] he's doing everything he needs to do."
"I wouldn't say [that's] shocking," Cecil said. "That's going to happen with pitches like that."
Ortiz's shot just to the left of straightaway center drew the loudest roar from fans who've been waiting since Sept. 22 to see him connect again. The home run by the slugger who hit 112 the past three years drew a standing ovation. As he crossed the plate, he pointed to the sky twice, clapped his hands and was hugged by Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis.
His teammates gave him the silent treatment before hugging him and pounding on his back in the dugout.
"We're all blowing on [the ball], wanting it to go out," manager Terry Francona said. "You could see the sheer joy in the dugout."
Ortiz doubled to left-center in the eighth but was stranded. He struck out twice and grounded to first base in his other three at-bats and is 11-for-59 in his last 16 games, dropping his batting average from .238 to .210. He started Wednesday at .203
"I wasn't really worried about homers as much as I was worried about getting my swing back," Ortiz said. "I know when my swing's there, the homers [are] going to come."
The second-place Red Sox cut the Blue Jays' lead in the AL East to 1½ games with their second win in two days over Toronto.
Penny went 6 2-3 innings and held the Blue Jays scoreless on five hits through six innings. Then he allowed two runs on four hits in the seventh on a run-scoring single by Rod Barajas and a double-play grounder by Marco Scutaro.
"He throws lots of fastballs," Toronto manager Cito Gaston said. "He got them where he wanted to and he got us out."
Boston took a 2-0 lead in the third on a homer by Varitek and a double-play grounder by Pedroia that scored Julio Lugo, who had doubled.
Cecil gave up Varitek's seventh homer of the season leading off the fifth. Lugo grounded out and Ellsbury walked but was thrown out at home on Pedroia's double, Then Ortiz connected on a 1-1 pitch, giving Boston a 5-0 lead.
Youkilis, who went 3-for-5 after being activated from the disabled list before the game, then singled. Bay followed with his 12th homer and Lowell hit his seventh.
Lyle Overbay doubled in Toronto's last run in the eighth.
- The Red Sox optioned IF Gil Velazquez to Triple-A Pawtucket.
- Boston hit four homers in an inning for the 11th time, the first since April 22, 2007, against the New York Yankees.