Red Sox 8, Devil Rays 6

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BOSTON (AP)—The Boston Red Sox just want to keep winning.

Manny Ramirez hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly, and Kevin Millar and Mark Bellhorn had two-run homers Wednesday night to lift the Red Sox to a hard-earned 8-6 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

The Red Sox, who remained four games behind the New York Yankees, avoided losing three straight for the first time since July 2. They began Wednesday with a 4 1/2 -game lead over Anaheim in the wild-card race.

Coming off a 5-2 defeat against Tampa Bay on Tuesday, with Pedro Martinez taking the loss, the Red Sox weren’t about to let up.

“Sometimes you hear so much about the teams that are in first place that you lose focus like we did last night,” Bellhorn said.

The Red Sox blew three leads before Ramirez put them ahead to stay in the sixth inning.

“It wasn’t pretty, but (it was) a good win for the team,” Millar said.

With the score tied at 6, Boston loaded the bases with no outs on walks by Doug Mirabelli, Kevin Youkilis and Johnny Damon. One batter later, Ramirez lined out to right, scoring pinch-runner Adam Hyzdu.

“We came back a few times, but every time they squirted ahead again,” Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said. “We walked a lot of people.”

Mike Myers (5-1) recorded two outs for the win. Mike Timlin worked a perfect eighth, and Keith Foulke—Boston’s sixth pitcher—finished for his 29th save in 34 chances.

Franklin Nunez (0-3), who walked the first two batters in the sixth, took the loss.

Jorge Cantu hit a game-tying two-run homer in the sixth for the Devil Rays, who had their three-game winning streak snapped.

“They got beat up down in New York,” David Ortiz said of the Devil Rays, who were swept in a four-game series at Yankee Stadium last week. “We should come with the same attitude tomorrow.”

Curt Schilling goes for his 20th win in the series finale on Thursday before the Red Sox travel to the Bronx for three games.

Boston added an insurance run in the seventh. Dave Roberts scored from second when Trot Nixon hit a grounder between the legs of shortstop Julio Lugo for an error.

The Devil Rays jumped ahead 1-0 in the first when Carl Crawford led off with a double and Julio Lugo walked. After a double steal, Rocco Baldelli brought in Crawford with an RBI groundout.

Bellhorn’s homer gave Boston a 2-1 lead in the first, a bit of redemption after striking out four times in Tuesday’s loss.

Tampa Bay tied it at 2 in the second on Toby Hall’s sacrifice fly, but Boston regained the lead on Mirabelli’s RBI double in the home half.

The Red Sox increased their lead to 4-2 in the fourth on Youkilis’ sacrifice fly.

The Devil Rays tied it at 4-all in the fifth, but left the bases loaded. Crawford and Baldelli each had RBI singles, but Tino Martinez bounced into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.

Millar hit his 100th career home run, a towering shot over the seats above the Green Monster, to give Boston a 6-4 lead in the fifth. The Devil Rays then tied it again in the top of the sixth on Cantu’s homer off Curtis Leskanic.

Tampa Bay starter Dewon Brazelton gave up six runs, five earned, and nine hits in 4 1-3 innings. Boston starter Tim Wakefield wasn’t much better, allowing four runs and six hits in five innings. He’s winless in his last three starts.

Notes

Boston’s next homer will be its 200th, giving the club consecutive 200-homer seasons for the first time in team history. … Tampa Bay stole a season-high five bases. … It was the Red Sox’s 50th home win, the second straight year and 24th time they’ve reached that mark. … Brazelton remained 0-11 in his career on the road. “It’s not on my mind when I’m pitching, but I want desperately to win so people won’t talk about it,” he said.

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