Wakefield celebrated his 38th birthday by beating Tampa Bay 6-3 on Monday for his third victory in four decisions since a season-high six-start winless streak. The veteran knuckleballer yielded three runs and four hits, striking out three and walking four over seven solid innings.
“The offense did a great job of getting me back in the ballgame,” Wakefield said. “It’s motivating for me, knowing that it’s very important to get my offense back in the dugout.”
Wakefield has allowed three earned runs or fewer in five of his last seven starts, and had walked two or fewer in six straight outings before struggling with his control Monday. Wakefield moved past Luis Tiant into third place on the franchise list with 239 starts. He trails only Cy Young and Roger Clemens. He also surpassed 2,000 innings for his career.
Boston dropped Friday’s series opener 4-3 to slip a season-high 10 1/2 games behind the AL East-leading New York Yankees, but rebounded with a 7-4 win Saturday.
Newly acquired outfielder Dave Roberts went 2-for-2 with a walk, two RBIs and a run scored for the Red Sox, who got 11 strikeouts in seven strong innings from Pedro Martinez. David Ortiz also drove in a pair of runs to up his team-leading RBI total to 96 as Boston remained in the thick of the AL wild-card race, moving within one game of Texas.
Ortiz made his return from a five-game suspension by the commissioner’s office for throwing bats onto the field after he was ejected from a game July 16 at Anaheim.
Eric Munson hit a solo homer in the ninth for Detroit, which has lost five of its last six games.