ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Mike Carp
's pinch-hit grand slam in the 10th inning led the Boston Red Sox
to a 7-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays
on Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, extending Boston's American League East lead to 9 1/2 games.
The Rays rallied from a two-run deficit scoring on Evan Longoria
's RBI double in the seventh and tying the game on James Loney's solo homer in the eighth.
But the Red Sox stormed back in a big way, with Carp crushing his second career grand slam and Boston's first pinch-hit slam since 2003. Dustin Pedroia
led off the 10th by drawing a walk against Tampa Bay's Joel Peralta and advanced to second on Shane Victorino
's sacrifice bunt. Rays manager Joe Maddon then elected to intentionally walk David Ortiz
and bring in right-hander Roberto Hernandez
to face Mike Napoli.
Hernandez, recently removed from the Rays' rotation, walked Napoli on four pitches, and the Red Sox sent up Carp to pinch-hit for Jonny Gomes. Carp launched Hernandez's first-pitch slider to straightaway center field, giving the Red Sox a big win and dealing the Rays yet another difficult loss.
Boston has won seven of its last eight games, 10 of 12 and 16 of 21. Tampa Bay, meanwhile, continued its freefall down the standings.
The Rays were tied with the Red Sox atop the AL East on Aug. 24 but have gone 4-13 since then. Now, Tampa Bay is clinging to the second AL wild-card spot over the New York Yankees into Thursday's series finale against Boston.
The Red Sox missed an early opportunity to grab a lead, loading the bases in the second inning before catcher David Ross grounded into an inning-ending double play. However, Boston broke through the third inning.
Alex Cobb once again loaded the bases, this time on a Pedroia single, a Victorino double and an intentional walk to Ortiz. Napoli stroked a two-run double to right field that bounced off Rays outfielder Wil Myers.
Ortiz came around to score on Daniel Nava's groundout to second base.
They Rays seemed primed to answer right back in the bottom of the inning, scoring one run on consecutive doubles by Yunel Escobar and David DeJesus. But Boston escaped a bases-loaded, two-out jam when Stephen Drew made a diving play at shortstop to get the forceout at second base.
NOTES: The Red Sox announced that they would pay tribute to Carl Yastrzemski by creating and unveiling a statue to the Hall of Fame left fielder at Fenway Park. The dedication ceremony is scheduled for Sept. 22. ... To commemorate the 12th anniversary of 9/11, the Rays and Red Sox along with all major league teams wore an American flag patch embroidered on the side of their caps. The Rays also hosted "Heroes Day" to honor emergency medical services, police and fire personnel.
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