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Boston at Tampa Bay

Scoreboard
Boston (89-63)200100000362
Tampa Bay (90-60) «32300002x10120

Rays batter Wakefield, increase lead over BoSox to two games

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Baseball's feel-good story of the year is on the verge of getting even better.

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by Scott Miller
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The AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays beat the Boston Red Sox 10-3 on Wednesday night, moving closer to their first playoff berth with another "star-less" effort that has become their signature.

"I wouldn't expect too much else from this team," rookie Fernando Perez said after he, Willy Aybar and Gabe Gross homered off Tim Wakefield to pace the rout before a sellout crowd of 36,048 at Tropicana Field.

"The way this team is put together, it isn't put together like the Yankees. It isn't a hoard of superstars that are expected to do well," Perez added. "This team is built on solid pitching and unity. Nobody sticks out. To see us win a game, everybody comes in and does something. We don't have the personalities that stand in the way of that."

Matt Garza gave up two long home runs to David Ortiz, but the Rays otherwise held the Red Sox in check to win the season series against the defending World Series champions 10-8 and extend their division lead over them to two games.

Tampa Bay, which had never won more than 70 games in a season before this year, can clinch at least a wild-card playoff berth by beating Minnesota twice during a four-game series that will begin here Thursday.

"They're good," Ortiz said. "They're playing like they have nothing to lose, and that's dangerous."

The Rays (90-60) became the sixth time in major league history to win 90 games immediately following a stretch of at least 10 consecutive losing seasons. The others are the 1912 Washington Senators, 1914 Boston Braves, 1956 Cincinnati Reds, 1979 Montreal Expos and 2006 Detroit Tigers.

The Red Sox, who lost four of six to Tampa Bay over the past 10 days, dropped a road series for the first time since being swept by the Los Angeles Angels on July 18-20. Their eight losses to the Rays at Tropicana Field are the most they've had in a season road series since they went 1-8 at Yankee Stadium in 2001.

"They're not the team we're used to playing. They're very, very good," Wakefield said. "They're not a team to take for granted right now."

Aybar, who was 3-for-5 with three RBI, hit a two-run homer off Wakefield (9-11) in the first inning. Aybar drove in the last of the six runs charged to the knuckleballer with a third-inning single off Devern Hansack.

Gross and Perez connected two pitches apart in the second. Perez also had RBI single in the third, when the Rays built their lead to 8-2.

Ortiz hit a two-run homer in the first and added his 21st of the season -- a solo shot off that remained lodged in one of the catwalks that support the roof of the domed stadium -- in the third.

And although the Red Sox still trailed 8-3, the home runs turned out to be enough to keep Garza from earning the victory.

Rays manager Joe Maddon lifted his starter with two on and two outs in the fifth, with Ortiz strolling to the plate with a chance to get Boston back in the game. The slugger worked the count to 3-2 against Grant Balfour (5-2) before flying out near the warning track in center field.

Garza allowed three runs and five hits in 4 2/3 innings. Wakefield, whose 19 career victories against Tampa Bay are tied with Mike Mussina for the most by a Rays opponent, gave up six runs and six hits in 2 1/3 innings.

Balfour pitched two scoreless innings for the victory. J.P. Howell and Chad Bradford shut down the Red Sox over the last 2 1/3 innings.

Although the Rays could clinch a playoff spot as early as this weekend, Maddon doesn't want his young team to be satisfied with that.

"Our focus has always been the to win the East. ... Regardless of what happens over the next couple of days, I want our focus to be that," Maddon said. "At the end of this regular season, it's about moving forward with home-field advantage. You look at our record at home, and we want to play as many games as possible here."

Notes

  • Some unruly fans were removed from the stands in the eighth inning. Play stopped briefly at one point while players watched police and stadium security handcuff a fan behind the Rays dugout.
  • The Red Sox played without 3B Mike Lowell, who sat out because of a sore right hip, and LF Jason Bay, who traveled to Boston for the birth of his daughter, Evelyn Jane, on Tuesday. Lowell felt more soreness and stiffness in his hip making a barehanded pickup and throw on a slow roller in Tuesday night's 2-1 loss to the Rays.
  • Tampa Bay improved to a major league-best 55-22 at home and needs two more wins to finish with the most home victories by a team since the Yankees went 65-16 in 1998.
  • Wakefield was trying to join Roger Clemens as the only pitchers with 10 or more victories in 10 different seasons with Boston.
  • Ortiz has seven consecutive 20-homer seasons, six with the Red Sox.
 
Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Fernando Perez and Akinori Iwamura can smell a title after upending Boston again.  (Getty Images)
Fernando Perez and Akinori Iwamura can smell a title after upending Boston again. (Getty Images)

Players of the Game
Tampa Bay

W. Aybar
AB 5
R 2
H 3
HR 1
RBI 3
Boston

D. Ortiz
AB 4
R 2
H 2
HR 2
RBI 3
 

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Boston Red Sox
Jacoby Ellsbury, LF4120001 .270
Dustin Pedroia, 2B4010002 .326
David Ortiz, DH4223002 .265
Kevin Youkilis, 3B3010100 .310
Mark Kotsay, RF4000012 .275
Jed Lowrie, SS4000022 .270
Sean Casey, 1B3000002 .337
Coco Crisp, CF4000001 .283
Kevin Cash, C1000110 .229
   a- Jeff Bailey, PH1000010 .263
    David Ross, C0000000 .230
Totals3236325  
a-struck out for Cash in the 7th
Batting
2B - Kevin Youkilis (41, Balfour)
HR - David Ortiz 2 (21, Garza, Garza)
RBI - David Ortiz 3 (84)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
E - Devern Hansack (1, Throwing), Javier Lopez (4, Misplayed grounder)
Boston Red Sox
Tim Wakefield (L,9-11) 2.1666023 4.18
Devern Hansack 0.1120110 0.00
Javier Lopez0100100 2.51
David Aardsma 1.1100000 4.57
Manny Delcarmen 2000130 3.49
Hideki Okajima 1000020 2.83
David Pauley 0.1322010 9.31
Chris Smith 0.2000000 7.02
HBP - Perez (by David Pauley)
Pitches-Strikes - Tim Wakefield 51-34, Devern Hansack 13-7, Javier Lopez 14-7, David Aardsma 18-14, Manny Delcarmen 27-15, Hideki Okajima 13-8, David Pauley 18-11, Chris Smith 5-3
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Tim Wakefield 2-3, Javier Lopez 1-0, David Aardsma 2-2, Manny Delcarmen 3-0
Batters Faced - Tim Wakefield 13, Devern Hansack 3, Javier Lopez 3, David Aardsma 5, Manny Delcarmen 7, Hideki Okajima 3, David Pauley 5, Chris Smith 2
Tampa Bay Rays
Akinori Iwamura, 2B4110122 .277
Jason Bartlett, SS5121003 .278
Carlos Pena, 1B3012100 .246
    Dan Johnson, PR-1B0000000 .300
Evan Longoria, 3B5110013 .277
Willy Aybar, DH5233002 .262
Dioner Navarro, C3100111 .291
Justin Ruggiano, LF4000042 .217
Gabe Gross, RF4221010 .247
Fernando Perez, CF3222000 .265
Totals361012939  
Batting
2B - Evan Longoria (28, Wakefield)
HR - Willy Aybar (10, Wakefield), Gabe Gross (13, Wakefield), Fernando Perez (2, Wakefield)
SF - Carlos Pena (8)
RBI - Jason Bartlett (31), Carlos Pena 2 (91), Willy Aybar 3 (31), Gabe Gross (38), Fernando Perez 2 (5)
2-OUT RBI - Willy Aybar 2 (14), Fernando Perez (4)
SB - Akinori Iwamura (7, 2nd base off Wakefield/Cash), Jason Bartlett (19, 2nd base off Wakefield/Cash)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
DP - Longoria-Iwamura-Pena
Tampa Bay Rays
Matt Garza 4.2533232 3.66
Grant Balfour (W,5-2) 2100020 1.52
J.P. Howell 1.1000000 2.32
Chad Bradford 1000000 2.11
HBP - Casey (by Chad Bradford)
Pitches-Strikes - Matt Garza 75-42, Grant Balfour 34-22, J.P. Howell 19-11, Chad Bradford 12-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Matt Garza 4-6, J.P. Howell 2-2
Batters Faced - Matt Garza 20, Grant Balfour 7, J.P. Howell 4, Chad Bradford 4
Game Information
Attendance - 36048
Game Time - 3:15
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - Paul Emmel, First Base - Jerry Crawford, Second Base - Jerry Meals, Third Base - Gary Darling