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Monday, September 26, 2011
Rays, Red Sox all even in Wild Card


What seemed so unlikely just a few weeks ago has now become a reality –- the Tampa Bay Rays have tied the Boston Red Sox for the AL Wild Card lead with just two games remaining in the regular season.

The Rays have risen to the top of the Wild Card standings for the first time since May 23, when they had a half-game lead over the Red Sox (and were tied for first with the New York Yankees).

Tampa Bay beat the Yankees 5-2 as James Shields fell one out short of his 12th complete game. He went at least eight innings for the 15th time this season, which is the most in MLB and one more than Justin Verlander.

B.J. Upton continued his hot hitting, with two doubles and two game-tying RBI. Upton has been a sparkplug for the Rays offense during their September run, batting .381 with 19 RBI in his last 22 games.

The Rays, who were nine games out of a playoff spot on September 2, are trying to become the first team in major-league history to overcome a deficit of nine games-or-more in September and make the postseason.

Boston’s September collapse continued with a 6-3 loss to the Orioles. The Red Sox are now 6-19 in September, which is tied for their second-most losses in the month in franchise history.

The Red Sox still have not won back-to-back games since August 27. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this stretch of 27 games is Boston’s longest since a 28-game run in 1994.

Josh Beckett allowed six earned runs in six innings for the second straight start, as the Red Sox starting pitching woes deepened. The rotation now has a 7.26 ERA in September, which would be the worst in any month by a Red Sox team (min. 20 games).

The St. Louis Cardinals remain one game behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL Wild Card race, following their 5-4 walk-off loss to the Astros in the 10th inning. It was the 13th walk-off loss for the Cardinals this season, the most in the NL and tied with the Angels and Mariners for the most in the majors.

Jaime Garcia struggled on the mound for the Redbirds, allowing four runs in four innings. The Cardinals had won his previous four starts and Garcia had a 1.74 ERA since September 6 before Monday night’s poor outing.

The Braves couldn’t widen their lead in the NL Wild Card race despite the Cardinals' loss, as they also lost 4-2 to the Phillies. The Braves are now 9-16 overall in September, the worst record among NL teams.

The Braves offense continued to flounder, as they scored three runs or fewer for the 13th time this month. They went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and are 1-for-16 in their last three games, all losses. They entered the month hitting .261 with RISP through August.