OAKLAND -- Since Wednesday, he had been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.
His petulant outburst over a scoring decision in the final game of the homestand showed him in a bad light: concerned over losing a single, wanting special treatment from the scorekeeper merely because he was a member of the home team, and focused on the wrong things as his team's season slipped away.
But with the game on the line, Sunday offered a reminder that trumped all of that: there's no one better at big moments than David Ortiz.
An inning after Koji Uehara yielded two solo homers in the ninth and blew his first regular season save in almost a year, Ortiz led off the top of the 10th with a laser shot to left-center for his 17th of the season, giving the Sox a 7-6 victory.
It was his second 10th inning homer in the last five days and the 10th extra-inning homer of his career.
"He's done it so many times,'' marveled teammate Mike Napoli. "I got a good view of it on-deck. He's just a great hitter. In situations like that, he seems to come through all the time.''
"He does have the knack for the moment,'' agreed John Farrell, "and I think more than anything, he stays at peace mentally in those key spots and doesn't miss his pitch when he gets it.''
In the first three games of the series, he had three hits -- all singles and had struck out four times. In his first four at-bats Sunday, he had another
strikeouts, a pop-up and two rather futile groundouts to the right side.
But Ortiz was able to put that behind him and hammer a 1-and-2 pitch from Fernando Abad.
"You know how I play in extra innings,'' said Ortiz with a smile, "especially when we got to (travel).''
Indeed, he had come through on another get-away afternoon game Wednesday when the Sox were finishing a homestand and getting ready for a cross-country flight to the Bay Area.
In that one, the Sox were trailing in the bottom of the inning. On Sunday, they had led by five with five outs to go and had frittered away the lead, facing a possible sweep to start their longest and most challenging road trip of the season.
Asked what he was looking for, Ortiz responded: "A pitch on the plate. I like to go up there and make things happen.''
The curious thing was why Abad gave him one, especially since the pitcher was ahead 1-and-2 at the time. But when the mistake got made, Ortiz didn't flinch, despite the struggles he was having.
"I've been having a hard time myself, just trying to just get some hits,'' said Ortiz. "But in the long (run), it's going to happen. You have to (put failure behind you). It's not like you've got to go out there and try to get five hits in one at-bat.
"Whatever happens in the past, it happened. You've just got to go out there with a fresh mind and try to do something different. It's not as easy as it sounds, but what can you do after you're 0-for-4 and you have another at-bat? Just go up there and fight.''
"We've got guys here here (for whom) it doesn't matter,'' said Napoli. "We go on to our next at-bat and try to execute a plan. He had a little rough game until then, but he can pop one out at any time.''
Especially when his team needs it most.