BOSTON (AP) – Curt Schilling started slowly in his return to the Fenway mound, but the Boston Red Sox rallied from a five-run deficit and beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 7-6 on Tuesday night when Trot Nixon singled in the winning run with two outs in the ninth.

Making his first start at Fenway since April, Schilling gave up five runs in the first two innings before settling down with four scoreless innings.

Boston trailed 5-0 after two and 6-4 in the eighth before tying the score on Bill Mueller’s RBI groundout and John Olerud’s pinch-single.

There was one out in the ninth when David Ortiz walked against Joe Borowski (1-1) and took third on Manny Ramirez’s single off Danys Baez. Jason Varitek drew a walk after falling behind in the count 0-2, then Johnny Damon hit a liner to right that was too hard for Ortiz to score.

Nixon followed with a similar shot, a little shallower, and it fell in for a single.

Mike Timlin (6-2) pitched one inning of perfect relief, striking out one. Julio Lugo, Carl Crawford and Jorge Cantu had three hits apiece for the Devil Rays.

Schilling made just three starts before missing 69 games with a right ankle injury, then made 21 relief appearances before returning to the rotation for a 7-4 loss to Kansas City on Thursday.

His hair bleached blond and his socks just plain old white, he was in trouble from the start.

Lugo doubled to lead off the game and, after a sacrifice bunt, scored on Cantu’s single before Schilling struck out Aubrey Huff and Jonny Gomes to end the inning. Alex Gonzalez doubled with one out in the second, Toby Hall singled and Lugo tripled to make it 3-0.

Crawford and Cantu doubled to score another pair of runs before Huff grounded out to end the inning.

Schilling set the Devil Rays down in order in the third and escaped the fourth despite giving up a pair of singles. He retired six of his last seven batters before leaving after six trailing 5-4.

It was 6-4 when Damon, who was not in the starting lineup a night after getting hit in the hand by a pitch, walked as a pinch hitter leading off the eighth. Nixon doubled him to third, and Mueller drove in a run with a bouncer to the first baseman.

Olerud pinch hit and singled to right to make it 6-6.

Notes: Cantu had two RBIs to give him 28 RBI August – the most by a Devil Rays player in any month. … Devil Rays starter Kazmir was warned by plate umpire Ed Montague after hitting the first Boston batter, Tony Graffanino. Kazmir allowed four runs, five hits, three walks and a hit batter in 5 2-3 innings. … Damon scored his 100th run of the season. He has eight consecutive seasons with 100 runs and 30 doubles. … Schilling became the 18th player in major league history with 2,800 strikeouts. He needs two to tie Cy Young for 17th place. … Boston recalled RHP Manny Delcarmen from Triple-A and optioned left-hander Abe Alvarez to Pawtucket. … Tampa Bay bench coach John McLaren was ejected in the middle of the ninth.

AP-ES-08-30-05 2254EDT

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