Anthony Ranaudo and a lineup loaded with rookies gave the Boston Red Sox reason to be optimistic for next season.
Starting seven rookies for the first time since 1971, when Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk was a September call-up, the Red Sox beat Tampa Bay 11-3 on Wednesday night.
"Youth is served," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "This is a talented group. We've got the opportunity to give them experience."
Garin Cecchini hit his first major league home run to help the fifth-place Boston Red Sox beat the fourth-place Rays. Ranaudo (4-3) settled down after spotting Tampa Bay two runs in the first, allowing two runs on six hits and a walk and striking out two to snap a three-game losing streak.
"I think this is a really good building block for me to take home for the offseason," said Ranaudo (4-3), "I realized I needed to go deep into this game and really competed. That's just what I tried to do."
The victory was the 69th of the season for the defending AL East and World Series champions, who need one more win to beat their total from 2012 - their only season under Bobby Valentine. It was their most rookie-laden lineup since Sept. 25, 1971, when the Red Sox beat the Washington Senators 6-3 and sent former Cy Young winner Denny McLain to his 22nd loss of the season.
The Red Sox twice batted around, scoring five runs in the fourth inning and four more in the sixth, when they drew five walks - three with the bases loaded. Jake Odorizzi (11-13) allowed five runs on seven hits, walking three and striking out three in three-plus innings.
In all, six Rays pitchers allowed 10 hits and nine walks.
"This is one of those blips on the pitching radar that we didn't see coming," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Jake had a hard time; the relievers had a hard time too. It was beyond them beating us up with hits. We just walked too many."
It was 2-all in the bottom of the fourth with two on and nobody out when Mookie Betts singled to load the bases and chase Odorizzi. Xander Bogaerts singled to drive in two runs and Daniel Nava doubled to bring home two more. Brandon Gomes got the next two batters before walking Cecchini on a wild pitch that moved Nava to third.
Another wild pitch allowed Nava to score, and then Rusney Castillo walked before Gomes got Bryce Brentz on a grounder to end the inning.
The Red Sox scored three runs on walks, one on a wild pitch and one on a passed ball. With the bases loaded in the sixth, Steve Geltz's 3-2 pitch to Betts got past Jose Molina to the backstop, scoring Cecchini on the walk and allowing Castillo to come around from second and score on the passed ball.
The Rays had posted six consecutive winning seasons, but Wednesday's loss guaranteed them of a losing record for the year. "It's no fun to be in this position," Maddon said. "For us, it's not acceptable. We expect to be in the playoffs on an annual basis and compete for the World Series on an annual basis and it did not happen."
Rays: SS Yunel Escobar, who sprained his left knee, was sent back to Florida for an MRI. He will be out the remainder of the season. ... Ryan Hanigan was in the original lineup at catcher, but he was a little sore after hitting something off his toe in Tuesday night's game. ... During the fourth inning, C Curt Casali took a foul ball of his mask and left the game with a concussion. Maddon said he is done for the year. He was replaced by Jose Molina.
Red Sox: DH David Ortiz rested a sore left wrist. ... 3B Will Middlebrooks missed his second straight game after spraining his right hand during batting practice on Tuesday. ... 1B Mike Napoli missed his sixth game in a row with lingering problems in his finger, back and toe.
The teams wrap up the three-game series on Thursday when Allen Webster (4-3) takes the mound against Rays RHP Jeremy Hellickson (1-4). Then the Red Sox say goodbye to their World Series championship defense - and to Derek Jeter as well - with a season-ending three-game series against the New York Yankees.