By JIMMY GOLEN
AP Sports Writer
BOSTON (AP) _ Carlos Pena and Ben Francisco hit back-to-back,
tape-measure homers in the fifth inning on Wednesday night to lead
the Tampa Bay Rays to their seventh consecutive victory, 4-2 over
the Boston Red Sox.
The Rays remained 3 1-2 games behind Baltimore for second place
in the AL East. Tampa Bay began the day three games behind Oakland
for the second wild-card spot.
It was the final home game of the season for the Red Sox, and
perhaps the last at Fenway Park for Boston manager Bobby Valentine.
Hired to inspire a fractious clubhouse after the team went 7-20
last September under Terry Francona, Valentine instead presided
over what could be the worst Red Sox team since 1965.
“When you don’t accomplish what you set out to do, you don’t
feel like you’ve done a good job. Simple,” Valentine said before
the game. “When I come back next year, I’ll think I’m prepared to
handle it. Hopefully, we’ll have better results.”
“Not much I would have done differently, I don’t think, other
than I think would have kept the beer in the clubhouse. I think I
could have used one after a few of those games,” he said.
Alex Cobb (10-9) allowed one run on three hits and a walk,
striking out five in five innings as the Rays matched their longest
winning streak of the season. Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth for
his 45th save in 47 chances.
Jon Lester (9-14) gave up three runs on four hits and a walk,
striking out five in six innings. He didn’t allow a hit until Jeff
Keppinger singled to left with one out in the fifth, then he gave
up back-to-back home runs.
Pena hit his 19th homer, nearly hitting the back wall behind the
seats in straightaway center field. Francisco hit another long
homer, this one off a billboard above the Green Monster seats, to
make it 3-1.
The Red Sox cut the deficit to one run in the sixth when Dustin
Pedroia walked, stole second, went to third on Cody Ross’ single
and scored on James Loney’s medium fly ball to right field. The
stolen base was Pedroia’s second of the game and the 100th of his
The Red Sox had some of their all-time greats on the field
before the game to help close Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary
season, with former captain Carl Yastrzemski pronouncing, “The Red
Sox will be back.”
Although the game was Boston’s 793rd consecutive announced
sellout _ its fifth straight year over 3 million for the season _
the ballpark was mostly empty when Rodney struck out Daniel Nava to
end the game.
The Red Sox, who went 34-47 at Fenway, matched their worst home
record since 1965 and still have a chance for their worst overall
mark since they lost 100 games that season.
They will close the season with three games in Baltimore and
three at Yankee Stadium.
NOTES: It was the fifth time the Rays had hit back-to-back
homers this season. … Before the game the Red Sox honored their
All Fenway Park Team, with two dozen former players on the field
for the ceremony. David Ortiz and Pedroia were the only current
players on the 40-man All-Fenway roster. The ceremony capped a
yearlong celebration of Fenway’s 100th anniversary. … The final
season attendance of 3,043,003 was the smallest since 2007, though
just by about 3,400. … Cobb, who was pitching on eight days’ of
rest, has allowed three earned runs or fewer in six straight
starts. … The teams split the season series 9-9. … The Rays
made it 4-2 in the seventh on an RBI double by Jose Lobaton.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)