Rays - 201 000 000 - 3 8 1 Red Sox - 201 100 00x - 4 9 2Beckett (6-7-3-1-7, 109) showed few ill effects and no loss of velocity, Daniel Bard pitched a clean eighth inning, walking a batter but striking out the side, and Mike Aviles's home run over the Wall in the fourth ended up being the margin of victory.
Both Beckett and Shields (7-7-4-3-4, 112) were hit for early runs. After Evan Longoria's two-run homer in the first just cleared the Wall, Boston quickly tied the score. Jacoby Ellsbury doubled and scored on Dustin Pedroia's single. Pedroia took second on a wild pitch and scored on David Ortiz's opposite field single.
In the third, Longoria drove in another run - and Tiz matched it as his double brought home Pedroia (again), who had singled and stolen second.
Tampa mounted a threat in the sixth. Johnny Damon singled and stole second and third; he stole three bases in the game, and the Rays swiped seven bags. Beckett then struck John Jaso out looking, though the inning-ending pitch appeared well outside. Beckett had received a similar gift from home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt in the previous inning, when B.J. Upton was rung up on an outside pitch. After the call on Jaso, Joe Maddon was ejected.
The Sox bullpen allowed only two fair balls to be hit in the last three innings. Alfredo Aceves walked two, but struck out two. Bard struck out the side, with the first K coming after Damon half-swung at a pitch that ended up hitting him in the back foot. Jonathan Papelbon struck out the first two Rays, allowed a single and stolen base to Upton, but fanned Longoria for the save.
The Blue Jays scored a run in the bottom of the ninth off Boone Logan and Cory Wade and beat the Yankees 5-4. Boston moved to 3.5 GB the Yankees in the East, while also increasing their lead in the wild card race to four games over the Rays and five games over the Angels, who lost to Baltimore 8-3.
James Shields / Josh Beckett
Ellsbury, CFThe 2011 Season, in Three Parts
April 1-15: 2-10 .167 April 16-August 31: 81-42 .658 (107-win pace) September 1-15: 3-11 .214 86-63 .577 (3rd best in AL/6th best in MLB)Beckett returns to the mound for the first time since September 5, when he suffered a sprained right ankle and left after 3.2 innings. Terry Francona says Beckett is not on a limited pitch count, but he'll keep a close eye on him:
He hasn't been out very long, but we reserve the right to see how he's feeling. It's one of those days where we'll check with him. Just because he may look like he's cruising, I wouldn't want to send him back out there if he was laboring inside. We'll keep an eye on him.Shields has 11 complete games. That's more than 26 of the other 29 major league teams. Only the Phillies (18), Angels (11), and Mariners (12) have more. No MLB pitcher has had more than nine CG in a season since 1999.
Game thread. ... Yankees/Blue Jays and Angels/Orioles at 7 PM.