BOSTON -- Just like last year, the Tampa Bay Rays have a tough road ahead if they are going to make the playoffs.
They made it last year on the final night of the season. Can they do it again?
Carlos Pena (No. 19, a two-run blast) and Ben Francisco (No. 2 with Tampa) hit back-to-back tape-measure homers in the fifth inning Wednesday night, helping the Rays to their seventh consecutive win, a 4-2 victory over the Red Sox for a sweep of a two-game series.
The Rays, who have equaled their longest winning streak of the season, are three games behind Baltimore and Oakland and a game behind the Angeles for a wild card spot. While they have only seven games left, they finish the season at home with three games against the Orioles next week.
Wednesday night, they beat the Red Sox in the final Boston home game of the season. It may have been the final home game for first-year Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, whose season mired in controversy since spring training.
The Sox honored their All-Fenway team in pre-game ceremonies concluding the park's 100th season. The 2012 team then lost its 87th game, finishing 34-47 at home, Boston's worst Fenway record since 1965.
Alex Cobb (10-9) worked the first five innings for the win, with five relievers finishing off a four-hitter. Fernando Rodney earned his 45th save in 47 chances.
Daniel Nava and James Loney drove in runs for the Red Sox, while Jose Lobaton delivered a seventh-inning run for Tampa with a double.
Red Sox pitchers recorded their last 11 outs on strikeouts.
Boston's Dustin Pedroia walked twice and stole the 99th and 100th bases of his career.
Jon Lester (9-14) gave up the homers and took the loss.
The Red Sox scored in the second inning, with the help of a fluky play. Jarred Saltalamacchia drew a one-out walk and was off with the pitch when Ryan Lavarnway hit a hard grounder to second base. Ryan Roberts, who was running to cover the base, stopped and made a twisting grab of the ball, throwing too late to second. However, Ben Zobrist threw to first to get the rare 4-6-3 one out. Nava then singled to right to deliver the run.
Lester walked Evan Longoria leading off the second, but Carlos Pena hit into a double play.
Longoria led off the fifth with a bouncer that eluded third baseman Pedro Ciriaco, but shortstop Jose Iglesias got the ball in the deep shortstop hole and his high-arcing throw got Longoria at first, the latest in a string of plays that have been made by the young shortstop since his recall from Class AAA.
The no-hitter ended, though, when Jeff Keppinger, the next batter, singled. Pena then drilled a 2-1 pitch to dead center and way gone and the Rays had the lead. Francisco then clubbed a 3-2 pitch to make it 3-1.
NOTES: Beleaguered Red Sox manager Valentine, asked before the game if he will be brought back for the second year of his contract, said, "My gut feeling is they haven't talked to me yet. There hasn't been any dialogue. We've talked, but not about that. Which makes me think I'm coming back. I don't know." He said there was "not much I would have done differently, I don't think, other than I think I would have kept the beer in the clubhouse. I could have used it after a few games this year." ... Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez and Carl Yastrzemski were among those at the the pre-game ceremony, with Manny Ramirez nowhere to be found on the list of 40 players. Current Soxers David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia were also on the first team (Yastrzemski was second to Ted Williams), the teams picked in voting of "fans, historians, front office staff, and the club's archival consultants," according to the team. The game started some 15 minutes late due to the ceremony. ... The Rays will send James Shields out against Jake Peavy in the first of four in Chicago on Thursday night, while the Red Sox continue to try to play spoiler when Aaron Cook faces Baltimore's Chris Tillman on Friday night. ... When David Price notched his 200th strikeout Tuesday night, he and Shields became the seventh set of teammates to record back-to-back 200-strikeout seasons, the first since Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson did it in Arizona in 2001-02.