Burkett tosses eight shutout innings against Rays

BOSTON (AP) -- John Burkett finished the season the way he
started it.

Burkett pitched eight strong innings Friday striking out six
while allowing five hits and one run as the Boston Red Sox beat the
Tampa Bay Devil Rays 6-1.

It was his third win in his last four outings. He started 7-0 in
his first nine starts.

"I feel like I'd like to continue the season right now I feel
as good as I have all season long,'' Burkett said.

Burkett (13-8) allowed only a solo homer to Ben Grieve, his 19th
in the fourth.

"I wouldn't call the season a total disappointment ... 92 93 94
wins usually gets you in but some teams have exceptional seasons,''
Burkett said.

He has 13 wins in a season for the first time since going 14-5
with the Florida Marlins in 1995.

The Red Sox chased Tampa Bay starter Paul Wilson (6-12) when
they scored five runs in the second inning. Garciaparra's two-run
single with the bases loaded was the big blow in the inning. Trot
Nixon, Daubach and Johnny Damon all had RBI singles.

Wilson gave up five runs and seven hits with a walk in 1 1/3
innings. He is 0-4 in his last six starts and got past the fifth
inning only twice.

"They didn't sting the ball, but they were hits nevertheless.
... When every base hit produces a run, you get the big inning,''
Tampa manager Hal McRae said.

Manny Ramirez led off the second inning with a double, Shea
Hillenbrand walked and Nixon singled to right, scoring Ramirez.
Jason Varitek hit into a fielder's choice, Daubach followed with a
single to center that scored Hillenbrand.

Lou Merloni singled to right before Damon hit an RBI single.
Garciaparra followed with his two hits.

Daubach's solo home run in the third inning, his 20th, off
Travis Phelps gave the Red Sox a 6-0 lead.

"I think it's important for every player out there to go into
the offseason as positively as they can,'' Red Sox manager Grady
Little said.

Ramirez, the AL batting leader, went 1-for-2 to keep his average
at .347. He was thrown out of the game by home plate umpire Rick
Reed after taking a called third strike in the second. He was
ejected after taking a few steps toward the dugout then flipping
his bat and helmet behind him in Reed's direction.

Little said that Ramirez will play in the Red Sox remaining two
games, but cautioned "I don't know if he'll stay in there for the
entire game.''

Kansas City's Mike Sweeney started the day in second place in
the AL batting race with a .343 average.

Game notes
Daubach became the fifth Red Sox player to hit 20 or more
home runs in his first four seasons. Garciaparra accomplished the
feat from 1997-2000. Tony Conigliaro, Jim Rice and Ted Williams
have also hit 20 or more home runs in their first four seasons. ...
Cliff Floyd left the game in the second inning with a bruised left
ankle. He was hit by a pitch from Phelps. ... Jared Sandberg's
strikeout in the fourth inning was his team leading 136th for the
Devil Rays. He has struck out in 80 of his 97 starts.