A night after their playoff hopes took a brutal hit with a loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, the Sox ended their most prolific offensive series of the season by returning the favor, pasting the Rays 11-5 behind a 17-hit attack.
The outburst gave Boston 28 runs on 33 hits in the series. The club had eight home runs, seven doubles and 19 walks in the three games. The team’s previous season high for runs in a series, including four-gamers, was 25, accomplished in three meetings with Philadelphia in June at Fenway Park.
"It's nice to score some runs," shortstop Marco Scutaro, one of several to achieve an offensive milestone, said plainly.
The Red Sox’ victory pulled them to within 6 1/2 games of the Rays in the wild-card race. With 22 games remaining, the odds are stacked against them. They know that. The funeral feel in the clubhouse after losing 14-5 on Tuesday suggested as much. But a suddenly potent blend of young and old bats, which will be the formula down the stretch, has at least added life to an offense that slumbered its way through August.
The outburst Wednesday was enough to turn around a slow start and cover up some early mistakes.
Tim Wakefield, thrust into the starting role when manager Terry Francona elected to not use Clay Buchholz on short rest, was reached for four runs in the first two innings. After the nine-run drubbing sustained just 24 hours earlier, the early 4-0 deficit cast a bit of a pall over Fenway Park. It felt like more of the same, and mixed into it all was an error, a passed ball and a missed cutoff throw that didn’t do any damage but simply added to the sluggish beginning.
However, the bats made it all a distant memory by scoring all 11 of the team’s runs over a six-inning span.
"We were pretty sloppy in a number of areas but we kind of hit our way through it," Francona said.
It began with a two-run homer by Adrian Beltre in the second and continued with solo shots by Scutaro and David Ortiz in the third that forged a 4-4 tie.
Tampa Bay regained the lead with a run in the fourth but Boston seized control in the fifth. Victor Martinez led things off with his 15th home run of the season, Ortiz walked and Ryan Kalish doubled him in to put the Sox ahead to stay. Kalish came around later in the inning on a throwing error by Rays third baseman Evan Longoria to make it 7-5.
Lars Anderson, who had his first major league hit in the fourth, notched his first career RBI when he plated Josh Reddick with a single in the seventh, and Scutaro capped that rally and the scoring with a two-run shot, his 10th.
Beltre reached the 1,000 RBI mark for his career. Ortiz moved within a home run of becoming the third player in Red Sox history to have 30 in a season six times. Scutaro matched career highs with the two home runs and four hits. Anderson had his two firsts. Reddick recorded three hits in a game for the first time in his career.
And because of it all, Wakefield became the oldest pitcher in team history to pick up a victory.
"When we score like we did, he gets the win," Francona said before offering plenty of praise for the job Wakefield did on a fill-in basis.
Runs, hits and milestones galore. It was the kind of night that showed there was still some fight left.