ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Suddenly, Tampa Bay is not playing
like a last-place team.
The Devil Rays matched their longest winning streak of the
season with their fourth straight victory, beating Curt Schilling
and the Boston Red Sox 4-3 Monday night on Aubrey Huff's two-out
RBI double in the 10th inning.
"We let one slip away," Red Sox pitcher David Wells said.
"This team is not easy as everybody thinks. They've got a good
ballclub over there. They make things happen, so you've got to make
Jorge Cantu scored from first base when the game-winning hit off
Schilling (2-4) soared over right fielder Trot Nixon's head and
caromed off the wall past Nixon to end Boston's first extra-inning
game of the season.
"I knew it was over his head. I just wanted a good kick off the
wall," Huff said.
Schilling lost for the second time since returning from the
disabled list on July 13 and taking over the closer's job instead
of moving back into the starting rotation. He didn't think he threw
that bad of a pitch to Huff.
"I didn't think that would end the game right there, but he hit
it well. A lot better than I thought he did," Schilling said.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona believes working in the closer's
role has been good for Schilling despite the struggles.
"I hope so," Francona said before the game. "I think this is going to
actually accelerate, maybe not him starting, but when he does start
being effective. He's gotten repetition in his delivery. I really
think this has been good for him. I think he probably thinks so, too."
On Sunday, Schilling said he would be ready to start again if that's what the team wants.
"I want to go back in the rotation as soon as I possibly can. Me going back in the rotation is not solely dependent on me. If I go back next week, I'll be ready," he told The Boston Globe.
Jesus Colome (2-2) pitched 2 1/3 innings for the win as Tampa
Bay, which swept Baltimore over the weekend, improved to 8-3 since
the All-Star break. Boston's lead in the AL East shrunk to one game
over second-place New York.
Colome got out of a jam in the ninth by first tagging out
pinch-runner Adam Stern in a rundown between third and home and
then getting major league RBI leader Manny Ramirez to fly out with
the bases loaded to end the inning.
Nixon singled and stole second in the 10th. But the Red Sox
caught a bad break when John Olerud's ground single between
shortstop and second base hit Nixon in the leg and the Boston
runner was ruled out.
"We're getting breaks we haven't gotten in the first half,"
Huff said. "I don't see anything different except our pitching is
getting it done now."
The Red Sox set a major-league record to start a season by not
playing extra-innings until their 99th game.
Schilling pitched a perfect ninth before giving up a leadoff
single to Carl Crawford in the 10th. Cantu reached on a fielder's
choice, bunting into a force play.
"I thought he was throwing very well," Francona said of Schilling. "A good hitter did what you don't want
him to do."
Wells, who hasn't lost to the Devil Rays since 1999, allowed
three runs and nine hits over 6 1/3 innings. He was lifted after
giving up one-out singles to Toby Hall and Nick Green, and reliever
Mike Timlin was unable to keep Tampa Bay from tying the game.
Julio Lugo's RBI single off Timlin wiped out a 3-2 lead the Red
Sox took on Johnny Damon's two-run homer off Travis Harper in the
top of the seventh. Bill Mueller drove in Boston's first run with a
second-inning RBI single off Devil Rays starter Doug Waechter.
The Devil Rays tied it 1-all on Hall's sacrifice fly in the
second after wasting an opportunity to get off to a quick start
when Wells gave up a double to Lugo and single to Crawford to begin
Wells escaped the jam by striking out Cantu and Jonny Gomes and
getting Huff to ground out to end the inning. Huff singled with one
out in the fourth and scored when Damon Hollins doubled to
left-center for a 2-1 lead.
Home runs have been a problem for Waechter, particularly at
Tropicana Field where he's given up 27 in 110 career innings. But
he kept the potent Red Sox in check, allowing four singles and a
double before leaving with two outs in the fifth.
Waechter was activated from the disabled list earlier in the day
after being sidelined since June 29 with tendinitis in his right
index finger. He allowed one run and five hits in 5 2/3 innings,
departing with a 2-1 lead.
Harper replaced Chad Orvella with a 2-0 count on Tony
Graffanino, who eventually walked with one out in the seventh.
Damon followed with his seventh homer on a towering flyball that
struck the right field foul pole to put the Red Sox ahead 3-2.
Harper had not allowed a run in 12 innings over seven outings
since yielding nine in just two-thirds of an inning against the
Yankees on June 21. Damon is 2-for-10 lifetime against the
right-hander, but both of those hits were home runs.
The Red Sox won their previous three extra-inning games,
all during last year's playoffs. ... Wells has won nine consecutive
decisions against the Devil Rays dating to 1999 when he was with
Toronto. He's 10-1 overall. ... INF Fernando Cortez was optioned to
Triple-A Durham to make room on Tampa Bay's roster for Waechter.
... The Devil Rays released RHP Hideo Nomo, who had been designated
for assignment on July 16.