ATLANTA — When Boston fell behind 6-1 in the third inning Monday, it looked like the defending World Series champions were headed to an embarrassing 11th straight loss.
Then David Ortiz turned things in the Red Sox’s favor just like he has done so many times.
Ortiz, playing first base on Monday, smashed a tying three-run homer in a five-run fifth inning and then put Boston ahead on a sacrifice fly in the seventh as the Red Sox snapped their losing streak with an 8-6 victory over the Atlanta Braves.
With the highly vocal Red Sox fans in the sellout crowd of 48,501 at Turner Field chanting his name, Big Papi plated the tie-breaking run with a long fly off lefty reliever Ian Thomas (1-2) and Boston added a second run in the inning on a single by catcher A.J. Pierzynski.
The Red Sox (21-29) were outscored 52-26 during their 10-game losing streak and hadn’t won since beating Minnesota 9-4 on May 14.
The Braves (28-22) took advantage of starter Clay Buchholz’s wildness in building a big lead, but the Red Sox bullpen held them in check over the last four innings. Edward Mujica (2-1) got credit for the victory after a scoreless sixth inning and Koji Uehara closed it out in the ninth for his 10th save.
After Buchholz walked eight while getting just three outs, the Red Sox were in a 6-1 hole before storming back after Santana got two quick outs to start the fifth.
Second baseman Dustin Pedroia singled in two runs and then Ortiz, forced to play first base in the interleague game, drove a hanging 0-1 slider into the center-field seats with two on for his 12th home run off the season.
After giving up just nine runs in his first six starts, Santana has allowed 17 in his past three as his ERA has jumped from 1.99 to 4.02. He allowed five hits, walked three and struck out six in the no-decision.
Buchholz, who threw just 42 of his 88 pitches for strikes, walked two in the first inning and one in the second before the Braves, down 1-0 after Grady Sizemore’s triple and a sacrifice fly by Jackie Bradley Jr. in the top of the third, starting to make Buchholz pay for his wildness in the bottom of the inning.
Buchholz walked his fourth and fifth batter before a two-run double by left fielder Justin Upton. Two infield singles and a sixth walk followed, with catcher Gerald Laird’s smash off Bucholz’s left leg driving in the third run.
The right-hander was pulled without getting an out in the fourth inning after two more walks and an RBI double by center fielder B.J. Upton. Burke Badenhop came and gave up Justin Upton’s second run-producing double and an RBI single by Andrelton Simmons.
The Braves, though, left eight runners on base in the first four innings and that came back to haunt them.
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NOTES: The game was interrupted by rain in the middle of the sixth inning for an hour and 26 minutes. ... With 1B Mike Napoli (sprained finger) on the DL, the Red Sox recalled 1B-C Ryan Lavarnway from Triple-A Pawtucket and he grounded out as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning. ... RHP Alex Wilson, who pitched a scoreless inning of relief at Tampa Bay on Sunday in his only appearance, was returned to Triple-A. ... LHP Jon Lester (4-6, 3.36 ERA) will start for Boston tonight against RHP Aaron Harang (4-4, 3.32). ... After two games in Atlanta, the teams play in Boston on Wednesday and Thursday. ... SS Stephen Drew, who could join the Red Sox by June 2, was 1-for-3 with a double and made an error while playing seven innings in his second game for Class A Greenville on Sunday. He is slated to join either Double-A Portland or Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday.