BOSTON (AP) – David Ortiz tied the game in the eighth inning with his 47th homer, then singled home the winning run in the ninth to give the Boston Red Sox a critical 5-4 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday night.

Boston trailed 4-1, and a loss would have dropped the Red Sox two games back of New York in the AL East and one game behind Cleveland in the wild-card race.

Instead, the Red Sox (93-66) enter their season-ending three-game series with the Yankees (94-65) at Fenway Park trailing New York by one game. Boston would tie its rival by taking two of three, forcing a one-game playoff Monday in New York, and would win the division with a sweep.

Rookie Jonathan Papelbon (3-1) pitched 2 2-3 scoreless innings for the win, and Manny Ramirez hit a two-run homer in the sixth off Jason Frasor that cut the deficit to 4-3.

Ortiz homered off Vinnie Chulk leading of the eighth, and Miguel Batista (5-8) allowed a one-out single in the ninth to Johnny Damon, who stole second.

Edgar Renteria walked, and Ortiz lined a 3-2 pitch into the shortstop hole as Damon easily scored.

As he rounded first, Ortiz raised both arms to the sky and was mobbed by teammates. The crowd chanted “MVP! MVP!”

The Yankees beat Baltimore 8-4 Friday night for their 15th win in 18 games, while the Indians beat Tampa Bay 6-0.

“The Yankees won. Cleveland won. So we’ve got to pull this one out,” Ortiz said moments after his winning hit.

Ortiz’s homer was his 20th of the season that tied a game or put Boston ahead, and it was his 11th in September. Ramirez walked and Jason Varitek singled to give the Red Sox runners at the corners with no out later in the inning, but John Olerud hit a shallow flyout, Bill Mueller struck out and Trot Nixon hit a liner to right-center that Vernon Wells grabbed with an outstanding sliding catch.

Toronto took a 1-0 lead in the first against Matt Clement when Eric Hinske doubled, stole third and went home when Varitek threw the ball into left field for an error.

Doubles by Aaron Hill and Frank Catalanotto made it 2-0 in the second before Boston scored in the bottom of the inning on Tony Graffanino’s double, Damon’s single and Edgar Renteria’s groundout.

Catalanotto made it 4-1 in the fifth with his eighth homer, and Toronto appeared headed to its 12th win in 18 games against the Red Sox before Ramirez hit his 42nd homer.

Notes: Ramirez has 432 homers, passing Cal Ripken for sole possession of 34th place. … Ortiz has the second-highest season home-run total for the Red Sox, three behind Jimmie Foxx (1938) … Boston reached 93 victories for the fourth straight year for the first time in club history.

AP-ES-09-29-05 2300EDT

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