BOSTON (AP) – There hasn’t been much need for a telephone in the visitors’ bullpen at Fenway Park lately. Finally pressed into use, it went on the fritz.
All-Star Mike Lowell and a lineup of Red Sox reserves helped Boston emerge from a monthlong batting slump and beat Tampa Bay 7-5 on Wednesday, the Devil Rays’ 10th consecutive loss. The only thing slowing Boston down on its way to a third consecutive victory was when Tampa Bay’s phone went out and a Red Sox bat boy had to run out to right field with a message.
“We tried to get the two guys up, and no phone. With all the good things the Red Sox do, they failed to pay their phone bill, I guess,” Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “I hated to stop the game there, but I had to.”
Tim Wakefield (9-8) shut down Tampa Bay for six innings before struggling in the seventh. But he had plenty of support from his hitters, who have totaled 18 runs in the last three wins after scoring two or fewer runs 13 times over 24 games before that.
“Obviously, our offense made it a whole lot easier to pitch,” said Wakefield, who cruised through the first six innings before three of the first four batters in the seventh singled. “They scored a lot of runs today and our defense played unbelievable.”
Wakefield left with a 7-1 lead, but he was charged with four runs and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings, walking two and striking out two for his fourth win in five starts. After Javier Lopez allowed Tampa Bay to cut the deficit to 7-5, Manny Delcarmen struck out pinch-hitter Jonny Gomes to end the seventh.
Delcarmen followed with a perfect eighth, and Jonathan Papelbon pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 20th save.
“Getting those four outs and getting the ball to Pap’s hands, it was a phenomenal job,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “He is getting some pretty big outs in pretty big situations. … I look forward to seeing some more exciting stuff out of him in the second half.”
Edwin Jackson (1-9), coming off his two best starts of the season, allowed seven runs on nine hits and a walk while striking out five. Jackson had hopes for more, coming off back-to-back starts in which he picked up his only win of the season and then a no-decision that was his best start.
“We are trying to stop all the madness. Our guys are trying so darn hard you could almost see them grinding away between the ears,” Maddon said. “Edwin Jackson threw the ball as well as I have ever seen him. And what I saw today, you could see where you could project this young man to be a member of a championship starting rotation.”
Jackson allowed most of the damage with two outs, and he also failed to finish batters off after getting ahead in the count.
“I just didn’t put people away when I had to,” he said.
He faced a Boston lineup for a day game after a night game that was without starters Manny Ramirez, Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia and Jason Varitek. But Lowell and Doug Mirabelli each drove in a pair of runs, and Alex Cora brought home another with a safety squeeze after Coco Crisp tripled to lead off the first.
J.D. Drew had a pair of doubles for the Red Sox, who won for the third time in four games to follow a slump in which they lost five of six.
Carl Crawford, who had just three hits in his previous 34 at-bats, had three hits on Wednesday. He greeted Javier Lopez with a two-run double to cut the deficit to 7-3 after Wakefield loaded the bases with one out in the seventh.
Carlos Pena singled in two more runs to make it 7-5 before Delcarmen struck out Gomes to end the inning.
Notes: The Red Sox improved to 20-6 in day games, the best mark in the majors. … Crawford got his 900th career hit. He is the 23rd player since World War II to reach the mark before his 26th birthday. … Tampa Bay placed reliever Al Reyes on the 15-day disabled list with a mild rotator cuff strain and recalled LHP Jon Switzer from Triple-A Durham. … Wakefield has a decision in all 17 of his starts.