BOSTON -- Like he's done so many times before, David Ortiz sent the Red Sox faithful home happy.
In his 19th walk-off hit with the Sox, including the postseason, Ortiz sent the first pitch he saw from Rangers reliever Michael Kirkman over the right-field wall for a three-run homer to break a ninth-inning tie, giving his club a 6-3 victory Thursday night in the rubber match of the series.
Before Ortiz stepped to the plate, Texas intentionally walked Dustin Pedroia so the lefty Kirkman could face the left-handed-hitting Ortiz. Asked if he was expecting the move, Ortiz was candid.
"Not at all," he said. "Nope. You don't wake up a monster like that."
Ortiz took his time rounding the bases and was mobbed by his teammates at home. Coming into the game, Ortiz had batted 40 times following an intentional walk. This was his first home run.
"David has come up in those situations many times throughout the course of his career," manager John Farrell said. "Today being, as far as we're concerned this season, one of the more exciting ones this year. This was a hard-fought series, a very good series to win."
Ortiz's blast overshadowed a successful return for Boston center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury.
Ellsbury, sidelined by a groin injury for the last five games, went 4-for-5 with two doubles and two runs, the last of which tied the game at 3 in the seventh.
"Obviously he's not running at full speed, but the way he's swinging the bat, he continued that here tonight, both against good left-handed pitching and the right-handers that came in there," Farrell said. "It's really good to have him back in the lineup."
It wasn't enough to earn the win, but Jon Lester showed flashes of the pitcher who dominated early on this season. He battled through six innings, giving up eight hits and three runs while throwing 108 pitches. He made two costly mistakes on the evening, both of which the Rangers turned into home runs.
He was outdone by Texas starter Derek Holland, who gave up just two runs in six innings.
Still, it was progress for the Boston lefty. Lester, who started the season 6-0 with a 2.72 ERA, looked like a different pitcher over his previous three outings. He was 0-2 in that span with a 6.05 ERA.
A two-run home run from Jeff Baker in the second put the Rangers up, 2-0, and Adrian Beltre added another run the following inning when he smashed a 0-1 offering from Lester over the wall in center.
But Lester settled down and didn't allow a run in his final three innings. When he struck out Jurickson Profar to end the sixth, he ran into the Boston dugout with an extra pep in his step as many of the fans behind the dugout stood and applauded.
"We had a chance to put some runs on him and [Lester] found a way to get out of it," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "They had a chance to put more runs than they did on Holland and we found a way to get out of it. That's what you do when you're not out there at your best."
With two outs in the third, Dustin Pedroia clubbed a 3-2 pitch off the center-field wall for a two-run double to cut the Texas lead to 3-2 and extend his hitting streak to 10 games.
Boston tied the game at 3 in the seventh when Mike Napoli beat out a potential double-play grounder and Ellsbury raced home.
The Boston bullpen certainly did its part to keep the club in the game after Lester's exit. Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara and Andrew Bailey combined for three scoreless innings and five strikeouts.
The night was about Ortiz, though. Boston has won in walk-off fashion five times, which is tied for the most in the American League. Jonny Gomes said there are some guys who thrive in clutch spots and Ortiz is certainly one of them.
"He's got a niche for it, you know," said Gomes, who had four hits and led off the ninth with a double. "Just how he's got the ability to get the job done. Sometimes you need a homer. It's hard enough to hit a homer almost at will. He's an unbelievable hitter."
Michael Periatt is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @Michael Periatt. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.