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Infusion of youth, homers lead rout of Rays

Infusion of youth, homers lead rout of Rays

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BOSTON -- Maybe it was the infusion of youth and production provided by Josh Reddick and Lars Anderson. Perhaps it was the inspiration provided by a banged-up Marco Scutaro talking his way into the lineup and then having a monster game. Then again, there was also the presence of three thumpers (David Ortiz, Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez) who had big nights.

It was hard to center on one key for the Red Sox on a night there were so many of them. But it all added up to an 11-5 victory over the Rays in the rubber match of this three-game series on Wednesday.

With 22 games left in the season, Boston trails Tampa Bay by 6 1/2 games in the American League Wild Card standings.

"We have to play like there's no tomorrow," said Beltre. "There's no doubt about that. Even though we're 6 1/2 games [back] tonight, we've got 20-plus games left. Anything can happen."

Even if time is against them, the Sox proved in this one that they are in no way deflated coming down the stretch.

"Regardless of the results of the other teams, we're going to go out there and try to win as much as we can and see what happens," said Scutaro.

Earning the win was veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, who made his second start since July 20, giving up six hits and four earned runs over five innings. It was a historic achievement for Wakefield, who, at 44 years and 37 days, became the oldest pitcher in club history to win a game, surpassing Dennis Eckersley.

"It means a lot, considering I've been here for 16 years," said Wakefield. "Any time you can have some kind of milestone, it's very important. I'm very proud to do it in a Red Sox uniform."

It was Wakefield's first win since July 2, but the 193rd of his career. He had plenty of support from his teammates in this one.

There was a five-homer attack, fronted by two from Scutaro, who had a four-hit game. Originally, Scutaro was going to rest his sore right rotator cuff. But he talked his way in.

"It was a great night," Scutaro said. "Also, it's a nice win for us. [Matt] Garza seems like he's been pretty tough all year against us. It's nice to score some runs for Wake, too."

Ortiz, Beltre and Martinez also went deep. The batting barrage was impressive on a night the usually nasty Garza was on the mound for Tampa Bay.

"We were pretty sloppy in a number of areas, but we kind of hit our way through it, which is not easy to do against their guy," said manager Terry Francona.

And the kids, who figure to get a good look down the stretch, looked like Major Leaguers. Reddick ripped a career-high three hits. Anderson produced the first two hits of his career and drove in his first run. Ryan Kalish, who has been playing regularly for the Sox since July 31, also aided the cause with an RBI double.

"When Lars does what he does or Reddick, sure, it helps," Francona said. "And Kalish, [too]. I agree with that. When you have young guys who do it the right way, it's really good."

The Rays tried to set the tone early, as B.J. Upton's three-run shot in the second against Wakefield made it a 4-0 game.

But the Sox didn't stay down long in this one on a night Garza was far from his best. Beltre ripped a two-run homer over the Monster to cut the deficit in half. That gave Beltre 1,001 RBIs in his career.

"It was big," said Beltre. "Even though we started a little behind, I know we had to score some runs tonight, because Garza always gives us a hard time, but we got to him tonight."

The long ball was a continued nemesis for Garza. He would give up four of them before his night was through. Scutaro led off the third with a solo shot to left, and later that inning, Ortiz tied the game by lacing a shot of his own into the Monster Seats. It was No. 29 for Ortiz, putting him in good shape to reach the 30-homer mark for the first time since 2007.

"When he stays balanced and keeps his legs under him, he becomes certainly more dangerous," Francona said.

Tampa Bay regained the lead, however briefly, in the top of the fourth on an RBI double by Jason Bartlett.

This was a night where the hits simply kept coming for the Red Sox. Martinez hit a mammoth homer into the far end of Boston's bullpen in right-center to lead off the fifth, tying the game again. Three batters later, Kalish gave Boston the lead, belting an RBI double to left. It turned into a three-run inning when Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria made a throwing error on Bill Hall's grounder.

There would be another run by Boston in the sixth and three more in the seventh.

Don't tell Rays manager Joe Maddon about the injury-riddled Red Sox.

"They're missing some guys, but they can still hit," Maddon said.

The Sox will spend a day off on Thursday in the Bay Area and then open up a three-game series with the A's on Friday night.

"Our job is to go out there and try to win as many as possible," Wakefield said. "Especially the situation that we're in now, every game is important from here on out to catch Tampa Bay or New York -- or Chicago for that matter. Every day is a must-win [game] for us from here on out."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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