ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) – Mark Hendrickson won his sixth straight decision and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays held on to beat Boston 8-7 on Monday night, trimming the Red Sox’s lead in the AL East over the New York Yankees to a half a game.

It is the closest the Yankees, who beat Baltimore 3-2 on Monday, have been since July 26, when they were one game behind.

David Ortiz drove in four runs, two on a double in the seventh that got Boston within 7-6 and another on his 44th homer that made it 8-7 with two outs in the ninth.

The Devil Rays had gone ahead 8-6 in the eighth on an RBI grounder by Jonny Gomes.

Danys Baez allowed Ortiz’s homer in the ninth but earned his 38th save by striking out Manny Ramirez to end the game.

The Devil Rays chased starter David Wells in the third inning in beating the Red Sox for the fifth time in 17 meetings this season.

Jorge Cantu put the Devil Rays ahead 7-4 in the sixth with two-run homer off Jonathan Papelbon. He has 107 RBIs this year, tying the team record set by Aubrey Huff in 2003.

Hendrickson (10-7) tied Victor Zambrano’s franchise mark established last year with his six-game winning streak. He gave up six runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings.

Wells didn’t resemble the pitcher who was 10-1 in 15 previous starts against Tampa Bay. The left-hander failed to cover first on a grounder in the big inning and tied a season-high with two walks.

After working out of jams in the first two innings and holding a 2-0 lead, Wells recorded only two outs in the third when he allowed four runs and six hits.

Huff was credited with an RBI single in the third when Wells never got to the base to take a throw on a high hopper to first with one out. Alex Gonzalez tied it at 2 with a run-scoring double.

Toby Hall hit a sacrifice fly before Damon Hollins extended the Tampa Bay lead to 4-2 with an RBI single. Wells was replaced by Chad Harville (0-1) after walking the next batter.

Wells gave up four runs and 10 hits in 2 2-3 innings. He threw 76 pitches, 37 in the third inning.

The Red Sox tied it at 4 in the fourth on Alex Cora’s two-run triple. Cora entered the game in the third after second baseman Tony Graffanino strained his left groin.

Huff’s RBI grounder in the fourth put Tampa Bay ahead 5-4.

Red Sox rookie Craig Hansen, the team’s first-round draft pick in June, was recalled from Double-A Portland earlier in the day and struck out two during a perfect fifth in his major league debut.

Notes: Ortiz leads the majors with 136 RBIs. The 44 homers are tied with New York’s Alex Rodriguez for the AL lead. … Wells’ only loss to Tampa Bay was on June 25, 1999. … Boston RF Trot Nixon didn’t feel well before the game and was scratched from the starting lineup. … The Red Sox also recalled INF Hanley Ramirez from Portland. … New York Yankees senior vice president of player personnel Gordon Blakeley, advance scouts Chuck Cottier and Wade Taylor and pro scout Joe Caro were at the game. The Yankees and Red Sox end the regular season with a three-game series in Boston.

AP-ES-09-19-05 2250EDT

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