BOSTON -- For two innings, Curt Schilling couldn't get anyone out.
"I had two options: I can quit or I can find a way to get better. I'm going to be better. I'm going to be better before this is all over," the struggling Red Sox ace said. "After the end of the second, I was at the end of my rope, and I just figured out where I was going to go."
Schilling settled down after allowing five runs in the first two innings on Tuesday night, and Boston rallied from a five-run deficit to beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 7-6 when Trot Nixon singled in the winning run with two outs in the ninth.
Making his first start at Fenway since April, Schilling gave up five runs in the first two innings before settling down with four scoreless innings.
"To his credit, he dug his heels in there," Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella said. "We scored five off him in two innings and he went six innings (total) and didn't give up any more."
Boston trailed 5-0 after two and 6-4 in the eighth before tying the score on Bill Mueller's RBI groundout and John Olerud's pinch-single.
There was one out in the ninth when David Ortiz walked against Joe Borowski (1-1) and took third on Manny Ramirez's single off Danys Baez. Jason Varitek drew a walk after falling behind in the count 0-2, then Johnny Damon hit a liner to right that was too hard for Ortiz to score.
Nixon followed with a similar shot, a little shallower, and it fell in for a single.
Mike Timlin (6-2) pitched one inning of perfect relief, striking out one.
"These guys can hit a little bit. Actually, they can hit a lot," Varitek said. "(Schilling) is playing catch-up while the hitters are in the prime this time of year."
Schilling made just three starts before missing 69 games with a right ankle injury, then made 21 relief appearances before returning to the rotation for a 7-4 loss at Kansas City on Thursday. His hair bleached blond and his socks just plain old white, he was in trouble from the start.
Lugo doubled to lead off the game and, after a sacrifice bunt, scored on Cantu's single before Schilling struck out Aubrey Huff and Jonny Gomes to end the inning. Alex Gonzalez doubled with one out in the second, Toby Hall singled and Lugo tripled to make it 3-0.
Crawford and Cantu doubled to score another pair of runs before Huff grounded out to end the inning.
Schilling set the Devil Rays down in order in the third and escaped the fourth despite giving up a pair of singles. He retired six of his last seven batters before leaving after six trailing 5-4.
It was 6-4 when Damon, who was not in the starting lineup a night after getting hit in the hand by a pitch, walked as a pinch hitter leading off the eighth. Nixon doubled him to third, and Mueller drove in a run with a bouncer to the first baseman.
Olerud pinch hit and singled to right to make it 6-6.
Cantu had two RBI to give him 28 RBI August -- the most by a Devil Rays player in any month. ... Devil Rays starter Kazmir was warned by plate umpire Ed Montague after hitting the first Boston batter, Tony Graffanino. Kazmir allowed four runs, five hits, three walks and a hit batter in 5 2/3 innings. ... Damon scored his 100th run of the season. He has eight consecutive seasons with 100 runs and 30 doubles. ... Schilling's four strikeouts moved him past Cy Young on the career list with 2,801, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. ... Boston recalled RHP Manny Delcarmen from Triple-A and optioned left-hander Abe Alvarez to Pawtucket. ... Tampa Bay bench coach John McLaren was ejected in the middle of the ninth. ... Red Sox closer Keith Foulke allowed two runs and four hits in one inning during a rehab outing at Single-A Lowell. He is scheduled to be activated Thursday, when active rosters expand from 25 to 40.