BOSTON (AP) — Boston shortstop Marco Scutaro had to dodge a broken bat and wound up letting the go-ahead single through his legs on Thursday night as the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Red Sox 9-2 and cut their deficit in the AL wild-card race to three games.
The Red Sox dropped to 3-11 in September to fall from first place in the division to 4½ games behind the New York Yankees and into a race with the Rays for the wild-card. Boston and Tampa Bay play three more times at Fenway Park this weekend.
B.J. Upton broke a scoreless tie in the third inning with his bat-aided RBI single, and Evan Longoria followed with a three-run homer. Casey Kotchman added a two-run shot in the sixth to make it 6-1, and in the seventh Upton hit a two-run homer and Kotchman added an RBI single.
Jeremy Hellickson (13-10) allowed one run on three hits and four walks, striking out four in 5 2-3 innings. Kyle Weiland (0-2) pitched three-plus innings, giving up four runs on three hits and two walks.
Weiland retired the first seven batters he faced before John Jaso doubled and, one out later, Desmond Jennings walked. Upton sent a grounder toward short, with the barrel of his bat arriving at about the same time as the ball.
Scutaro hopped out of the way as the bat went under his left foot and the ball went between his legs, allowing Jaso to score. Longoria followed with his 27th homer of the season, into the Red Sox bullpen to give Tampa Bay a 4-0 lead.
It was 6-1 when Upton hit the first pitch he saw from Matt Albers, the fifth of seven Boston pitchers, over the Green Monster.
Although the paid attendance of 38,071 was officially the team's 705th consecutive sellout, much of the game was played under a steady drizzle and it finished with only a few thousand fans in their seats.
NOTES: The Boston fans gave a cheer when former Red Sox star Johnny Damon was hit by a pitch in the sixth. ... Boston ace Josh Beckett (12-5), sidelined by a sprained right ankle, is scheduled to start Friday night against James Shields (15-6), who reached a career high in wins with a victory over Boston last weekend in Tampa Bay. ... Shields is 1-8 lifetime at Fenway Park. ... Shields leads the majors with 11 complete games — the most in a season since Randy Johnson had 12 for Arizona in 1999. ... Rays manager Joe Maddon said RHP Kyle Farnsworth remained day to day with a right elbow injury. ... Former Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe was at the game. ... Jose Iglesias got his first major league hit when he singled while pinch-hitting in the bottom of the ninth.