Friday night at Fenway Park, Josh Beckett struck out seven over six innings and Mike Aviles homered in the bottom of the fourth inning off James Shields to lift the Boston Red Sox to a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
With their win, the Red Sox increased their lead over the Rays in the American League Wild Card race to four games, with each team having 12 games remaining on their schedules.
The Rays jumped to an early 2-0 lead over the Red Sox, with left fielder Desmond Jennings leading off the game with a bunt single and reaching second base on a throwing error by Beckett. Jennings scored when third baseman Evan Longoria took Beckett deep for his 28th home run of the season. Jennings was a thorn in the Red Sox's side throughout the night, reaching base four times, scoring twice and accounting for two of the Rays' seven stolen bases.
The Red Sox would respond in the bottom of the first, with Jacoby Ellsbury doubling to lead off the frame and scoring on an RBI single by Dustin Pedroia. After reaching second on a wild pitch by Shields, Pedroia scored on a base hit by David Ortiz.
Ortiz also drove in Pedroia on a double to right center to tie the game again in the bottom of the third inning, one inning before Aviles' sixth home run of the season. Beckett allowed six hits and walked one on 109 pitches before giving way to the bullpen. Alfredo Aceves and Daniel Bard combined to walk three and strike out five over the seventh and eighth innings before Jonathan Papelbon came on to strike out the side in the ninth to earn his 30th save of the season.
Papelbon now has six straight seasons with at least 30 saves.