By JIMMY GOLEN    AP Sports Writer
BOSTON (AP) _ Boston shortstop Marco Scutaro had to dodge a
broken bat and wound up letting the go-ahead single through his
legs on Thursday night as the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Red Sox 9-2
and cut their deficit in the AL wild-card race to three games.

The Red Sox dropped to 3-11 in September to fall from first
place in the division to 41/2 games behind the New York Yankees and
into a race with the Rays for the wild-card. Boston and Tampa Bay
play three more times at Fenway Park this weekend.

B.J. Upton broke a scoreless tie in the third inning with his
bat-aided RBI single, and Evan Longoria followed with a three-run
homer. Casey Kotchman added a two-run shot in the sixth to make it
6-1, and in the seventh Upton hit a two-run homer and Kotchman
added an RBI single.

Jeremy Hellickson (13-10) allowed one run on three hits and four
walks, striking out four in 5 2-3 innings. Kyle Weiland (0-2)
pitched three-plus innings, giving up four runs on three hits and
two walks.

Weiland retired the first seven batters he faced before John
Jaso doubled and, one out later, Desmond Jennings walked. Upton
sent a grounder toward short, with the barrel of his bat arriving
at about the same time as the ball.

Scutaro hopped out of the way as the bat went under his left
foot and the ball went between his legs, allowing Jaso to score.
Longoria followed with his 27th homer of the season, into the Red
Sox bullpen to give Tampa Bay a 4-0 lead.

It was 6-1 when Upton hit the first pitch he saw from Matt
Albers, the fifth of seven Boston pitchers, over the Green Monster.
Although the paid attendance of 38,071 was officially the team’s
705th consecutive sellout, much of the game was played under a
steady drizzle and it finished with only a few thousand fans in
their seats.<

NOTES: The Boston fans gave a cheer when former Red Sox star
Johnny Damon was hit by a pitch in the sixth. … Boston ace Josh
Beckett (12-5), sidelined by a sprained right ankle, is scheduled
to start Friday night against James Shields (15-6), who reached a
career high in wins with a victory over Boston last weekend in
Tampa Bay. … Shields is 1-8 lifetime at Fenway Park. … Shields
leads the majors with 11 complete games _ the most in a season
since Randy Johnson had 12 for Arizona in 1999. … Rays manager
Joe Maddon said RHP Kyle Farnsworth remained day to day with a
right elbow injury. … Former Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe
was at the game. … Jose Iglesias got his first major league hit
when he singled while pinch-hitting in the bottom of the ninth.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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