BOSTON (AP) – The Boston Red Sox split their day-night doubleheader with the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday and grabbed a share – but just a share – of first place in the AL East.

Russ Adams hit a sacrifice fly to break an eighth-inning tie and lead Toronto to a 7-5 victory in the nightcap after Boston won the day game to move into a tie atop the division. When the Yankees lost 17-9 to the Baltimore Orioles, New York and Boston were left tied with five games remaining.

The Red Sox and Yankees are 92-65, also tied with Cleveland atop the wild-card standings. Tuesday’s results guaranteed that the AL East title will be up for grabs when New York comes to Fenway Park for a three-game series this weekend to close the season.

Tim Wakefield pitched seven strong innings to give Boston a 3-1 victory in the day game. But with the Fenway fans paying as much attention to the Yankees’ game in Baltimore as the one in front of them, the Red Sox lost the nightcap.

Frank Catalanotto had four hits, and Adams had a pair of hits to go with sacrifice flies in the eighth and ninth innings to snap Boston’s four-game winning streak. Jason Frasor (3-5) struck out two in 1 1-3 innings as five relievers combined for 5 2-3 innings of scoreless relief.

Miguel Batista got two outs for his 31st save in 39 chances, getting David Ortiz on a grounder for the final out.

Boston led 3-0 and 5-2 before the Blue Jays tied it in the seventh. Chad Bradford (2-1) came in with the bases loaded and struck out Shea Hillenbrand – his sixth strikeout in a row – and got Eric Hinske to ground out to end the inning.

But Gregg Zaun led off the eighth with a walk and Reed Johnson singled, then Aaron Hill moved them up with a sacrifice bunt. Red Sox rookie Craig Hansen relieved Bradford and Adams hit a medium fly ball to right that was deep enough to make it 6-5.

Toronto loaded the bases but Johnny Damon was able to get to Corey Koskie’s long fly ball to center field to end it. The Blue Jays loaded the bases again in the ninth before Adams lofted another fly to right to make it 7-5.

Curt Schilling allowed five runs on 10 hits and a walk, striking out eight in 6 1-3 innings for his third consecutive no-decision. Edgar Renteria had five hits on the day, and Ortiz had three RBIs to bring his major league-leading total to 143.

Wakefield (16-11) helped Boston pull into a tie for the AL East lead in the afternoon before leaving after seven so he will be rested for his next start – on three days’ rest – in the crucial weekend series against the Yankees.

“I probably could have finished the game, but I don’t think that’s a smart move,” he said after holding the Blue Jays to one unearned run on three hits. “It’s a pennant race. Every game is pretty much a must-win.”

Wakefield was scheduled to pitch the regular-season finale on Sunday, but Monday’s rainout pushed Schilling back until Tuesday’s nightcap against Gustavo Chacin. The Red Sox decided that the knuckleballer was better equipped to come back on short rest than Schilling, who has struggled all season as he recovers from ankle surgery.

So out came Wakefield.

“You never want to look past anything,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “But it’s a little bit of an extraordinary circumstance.”

Wakefield walked one and hit a batter while striking out six to win for the eighth time in 10 decisions. Jonathan Papelbon followed him in the eighth, using a mid-90s fastball and the late afternoon shadows to escape a first-and-third, one-out jam.

“That’s tough,” Catalanotto said. “The toughest part was the shadows. We all came back saying we couldn’t see the ball. It was tough picking it up. When you go from a slow knuckleball to a guy throwing 95 and you add in the shadow, it’s tough.”

Mike Timlin pitched the ninth for his 12th save in 19 chances and his 79th appearance of the season – one short of the franchise record.

Dave Bush (5-11) allowed three runs and six hits in six innings, striking out five and walking two. He ran into trouble in the first when Damon led off with a single and Renteria doubled him to third.

Ortiz grounded out to second to make it 1-0, then Manny Ramirez singled to score Renteria. Ortiz doubled to score Renteria in the fifth and make it 3-1.

Notes: The Red Sox face three consecutive left-handed starters, starting with Chacin on Tuesday. Lefty starters entered the day 5-10 with a 6.59 ERA at Fenway this year. … Because of Monday’s rainout, Schilling will start the regular-season finale against the Yankees and Mike Mussina instead of Saturday’s game. Wakefield will start on three days’ rest on Saturday and face Randy Johnson. David Wells and Chien-Ming Wang will pitch Friday’s series opener. … Wakefield’s previous two starts were no-decisions. He is 2-1 with a 1.99 ERA in September. His 220 1-3 innings is a career high. … Former Red Sox infielder Johnny Pesky celebrated his 86th birthday. … Bush has allowed 17 first-inning runs in 23 starts. He has a 6.65 ERA in the first inning and a 3.99 ERA after that. … Frank Menechino is 6-for-16 (.375) in his career against Wakefield. … The Red Sox went six consecutive home games without scoring more than three runs, the first time they’ve done that since 1976. … Hillenbrand struck out swinging seven times in the two games, including six straight.

AP-ES-09-27-05 2340EDT


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