BOSTON — Tim Wakefield’s next trip to the mound may be in the All-Star game. Look out, any AL catcher trying to handle his knuckleball.
Wakefield enhanced his status as a first-time All-Star by earning his AL-leading 11th victory, and David Ortiz homered and drove in four runs to lead the Boston Red Sox over the Oakland Athletics 5-4 Wednesday night.
“Unbelievable. I’m really happy for him, making the All-Star game,” Ortiz said. “I’m going to park myself in front of the TV and I can’t wait until he gets in the game. It’s going to be fun. I want to see who’s going to have to catch him.”
The 42-year-old Wakefield (11-3) is the second-oldest player to be selected for the game behind Satchel Paige, who was 46 in 1952. Wakefield will wait to see what AL manager Joe Maddon of Tampa Bay plans for him.
“When I get to St. Louis I’ll see what he has for me,” Wakefield said.
Wakefield left to a standing ovation in the seventh inning in his final scheduled start before the break. He improved to 9-0 in his last 11 starts at Fenway Park.
“His knuckleball was kind of off and on,” Oakland manager Bob Geren said. “There were at-bats where guys came back and said they’d never seen it move as much as it was.”
Of the first 10 batters he faced, Wakefield struck out five and three had hits.
“He got himself into a couple of binds,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “He pitched through a lot of hits.”
J.D. Drew led off the Boston sixth with a home run that made it 1-all. Ortiz connected for a three-run shot later in the inning.
Wakefield gave up three earned runs despite allowing 10 hits, struck out eight and walked one.
“I was telling George (Red Sox catcher Kottaras) behind the plate, ‘How do you even catch that ball?’” Oakland shortstop Orlando Cabrera said. “He was like, ‘I just close my eyes.’
“And I said, ‘OK, I’m going to try that one, I’m going to close my eyes and swing.’ And nothing.”
Jonathan Papelbon allowed a run in the ninth, but got his 22nd save. Jack Cust had three hits, including an RBI single, but struck out with two runners on to end the game.
Kurt Suzuki had three hits and drove in two runs for Oakland.
Boston trailed 1-0 before scoring four times in the sixth against rookie Trevor Cahill (5-8). Drew homered into the Athletics’ bullpen and Ortiz homered deep into the right-field seats.
Ortiz drove his fourth run with a grounder, making it 5-3 in the seventh.
Wakefield exited with two runners on and no outs in the seventh. Reliever Manny Delcarmen nearly escaped without allowing a run, but a strange play kept the inning going.
Boston shortstop Nick Green stepped wide of second base as he caught first baseman Mark Kotsay’s throw trying to double up Bobby Crosby on a shallow fly. The play was originally ruled an error, but changed after the game. Suzuki then singled in two runs.
Cust, just 9 for 45 with 21 strikeouts in his previous 13 games, gave Oakland a 1-0 lead with his single in the second.
The Athletics had runners on first and third with no outs after jumping ahead, but Wakefield retired the next three hitters easily, fanning the final two — Mark Ellis and Crosby — swinging.
Wakefield also worked out of a jams the next two innings.
In the third, Matt Holliday fouled out and Suzuki grounded out with two on.
Wakefield gave up Cust’s leadoff double in the fourth, but Crosby lined into an inning-ending double play.<
NOTES: Oakland 1B Nomar Garciaparra got a standing ovation again when he pinch hit. He received a lengthy one Monday in first Fenway game since being traded in 2004. … The Red Sox activated SS Jed Lowrie from the 60-day disabled list on Wednesday and optioned him to Single-A Lowell so he can continue to play after left wrist surgery in April. To make room, OF Jonathan Van Every was designated for assignment. … Athletics 1B/DH Jason Giambi, in a 5-for-44 slump, was benched against Wakefield. He’s hit .163 (15 for 92) against Wakefield with 21 strikeouts. … Cahill was Oakland’s second 21-year old starter in the series. LHP Brett Anderson threw a two-hitter to win the opener. … Boston avoided losing a second straight series at Fenway. The Red Sox earlier lost consecutive home series against the New York Mets and Texas Rangers — though they were nearly two weeks apart.