Fri, Sep 04, 2009 - Page 19 News List

Rays close in on Red Sox

WILDCARD RACE: Pat Burrell snapped an eighth-inning tie with an RBI single and Evan Longoria followed with a two-run blast to put the Rays within reach of Boston

New York Yankees batter Nick Swisher reacts after flying out against Baltimore relief pitcher Brian Bass to end the ninth inning of their American League game in Baltimore, Maryland, on Wednesday.

PHOTO: REUTERS

AMERICAN LEAGUE

REUTERS AND AP, MIAMI

The Tampa Bay Rays survived a shaky eighth inning before beating the Boston Red Sox 8-5 on Wednesday and gaining some ground in the American League Wild Card race.

After allowing the Red Sox to tie the score at 5-5 in the top of the eighth, Pat Burrell’s RBI single put the Rays ahead and Evan Longoria hit a two-run blast at the bottom of the same inning to cap the win. It was Longoria’s 26th homer of the season.

Reliever J.P. Howell (7-4) was credited with the win while Dan Wheeler came on to record the final two outs of the game as the Rays (72-60) moved back within five games of the Red Sox.

“This is huge. We realize the importance of every game at this point, especially against teams ahead of us in the division,” Longoria told reporters. “We see [Boston’s] pitchers so much there’s a little bit of familiarity that gives you a little more confidence as a hitter.”

Tampa Bay led 5-1 after three innings, but the Red Sox scored twice in the fourth and got an RBI single from Victor Martinez in the seventh to pull within one.

Boston tied the game in the eighth — without recording a hit — as Rays relievers gave up two walks before Howell threw a wild pitch that allowed pinch-runner Joey Gathright to score the tying run.

Boston’s Josh Beckett (14-5) allowed five runs in six innings to go winless for the fourth straight outing. He surrendered home runs to Carl Crawford and Burrell.

Tampa Bay starter Matt Garza allowed four runs and was relieved in the seventh inning.

The Red Sox (77-55) claimed the opener of the three-game series 8-4 on Tuesday. The rubber was to be played yesterday.

“Everything’s big now,” Burrell said. “We have to go for it every time we step on the field; we have a lot of ground to make up.”

YANKEES 10, ORIOLES 2

At Baltimore, Maryland, C.C. Sabathia earned his American League-leading 16th victory and Alex Rodriguez got his 2,500th hit and drove in four runs as the New York Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles for a three-game sweep.

Eric Hinske homered and Johnny Damon had four hits for the Yankees, who used a seven-run ninth inning to turn a tight game into a rout. New York has won six straight and is 34-11 since the All-Star break.

Sabathia (16-7) allowed one run in seven innings. Rodriguez got his milestone hit in the fifth inning, a single off Jason Berken, and lined a two-run single up the middle in the seventh against Kim Mickolio (0-2) to break a 1-1 tie.

Also on Wednesday, it was:

• Rangers 6, Blue Jays 4

• White Sox 4, Twins 2

• Athletics 10, Royals 4

• Tigers 4, Indians 2

• Mariners 3, Angels 0

NATIONAL LEAGUE

AP, PHILADELPHIA

Brad Penny pitched five-hit ball over eight shutout innings in his first start with the San Francisco Giants, leading the National League wild-card contenders over the Philadelphia Phillies 4-0 on Wednesday.

Penny (1-0) was back in his old All-Star form in his first outing since he was released last week by Boston. Penny went 7-8 with a 5.61 ERA this season for the Red Sox — including 1-6 in his last 11 starts. Juan Uribe and Aaron Rowand homered for the Giants, who reached 73 victories to surpass last season’s total.

J.A. Happ (10-4) lost his second straight start for the Phillies.

DIAMONDBACKS 4, DODGERS 1

At Los Angeles, Brandon Allen’s two-run homer highlighted a four-run fifth inning in Arizona’s victory over NL West-leading Los Angeles.

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