BOSTON (AP) – No matter how dire the situation appears for the Red Sox, there’s always Big Papi.

David Ortiz did it again Monday night, hitting a game-ending, three-run homer in the ninth inning to give Boston a 9-8 win over the Cleveland Indians that kept the Red Sox in sole possession of first place in the AL East.

“The whole inning we’re just thinking, let’s just get David to the plate,” manager Terry Francona said.

Ortiz, who also hit a solo homer in the third, got his second game-ending hit in three days and fifth of the year. It was his 12th in four seasons with Boston, most in the majors during that span. He leads the big leagues with 37 home runs and 105 RBIs, and he tied a club record with 14 homers in a month.

“You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” Ortiz said. “Like I said before, the worst thing that can happen is the pitcher getting you out.”

Until his one-out drive to center field, the day hadn’t been going well for the Red Sox.

They didn’t make a trade before the 4 p.m. EDT deadline for non-waiver deals. They also placed right fielder Trot Nixon on the disabled list, lost catcher Jason Varitek to a knee injury and watched David Wells allow eight runs in 4 2-3 innings in his first start in two months since hurting his right knee.

Boston took a one-game lead over the idle New York Yankees with help from homers by Manny Ramirez and Wily Mo Pena.

The winning homer followed a single by Alex Cora, a walk to Kevin Youkilis and a popout by Mark Loretta. It came on a 2-0 count against Fausto Carmona (1-5) and helped the Red Sox overcome two homers and five RBIs by Casey Blake.

“The guy had to make a pitch at the time or get the bases loaded and having a hitter like Manny” coming up, Ortiz said. “I just go out there with the same approach that I always go. See a pitch and hit it.”

It was Ortiz’s eighth career game-ending homer, seventh with the Red Sox and third this year. And that’s just in the regular season – he also has two game-ending homers in the postseason.

Carmona was in the game because the Indians traded closer Bob Wickman to Atlanta on July 20.

“He’s a strong-minded kid and he’s going to figure it out,” Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. “Obviously, that is a very special hitter that came up there.”

Kyle Snyder (3-2) got the win with 4 1-3 innings of one-hit relief after replacing Wells.

“I’ve never pitched in a game that’s made me feel this way,” said Snyder, who had been scheduled to start Tuesday night. “All I was trying to do was give us an opportunity to come back and win this game at the tail end and I’ll be darned if David Ortiz didn’t step up to the plate and do it again.”

Blake hit a leadoff homer in the second, a sacrifice fly in the third and a three-run homer in the fifth that put Cleveland ahead 8-6. Blake has 14 homers and three two-homer games.

He was in right field when Ortiz ended the game.

“You’re thinking, he can’t do it again,” Blake said. “The guy’s unbelievable.”

Boston scored in each of the first four innings against starter Paul Byrd.

The Red Sox went up 2-0 in the first on Loretta’s single and Ramirez’s 29th homer. Cleveland went ahead 3-2 in the second on Blake’s homer and a two-run double by Kelly Shoppach.

The Red Sox came back with two runs in the second on a two-run triple by Pena, who was a double short of the cycle.

The Indians jumped ahead 5-4 with two runs in the third on a single by Jason Michaels, an RBI double by Travis Hafner and Blake’s sacrifice fly.

Boston went back on top when Ortiz, in the fourth, and Pena, in the fifth, slammed the first pitch of each inning for solo homers.

Then Ortiz finished the game off with his specialty.

“I said, “He’s not going to do it again,”‘ Pena said, “and he did it.”

Notes: Varitek made his 1,000th appearance as a catcher, ranking him 106th on the career list. Carlton Fisk, who played with Boston and the Chicago White Sox, is the career leader with 2,226. … Byrd struggled for his second straight start. … Ramirez extended his hitting streak to 16 games, his longest in six years with Boston, and broke a tie for 27th place with Jim Thome with his 464th homer. … The Indians are 0-7 against Wells since their last win against him on Oct. 1, 2000. … RHP Jason Johnson will be recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket to start in place of Snyder on Tuesday night.

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