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The result may not have been in his favor, but Boston's Rick Porcello is saving a lost season with some quality starts in the final weeks.
Porcello held the Tampa Bay to just run over the first seven innings before the Rays added on against Boston's bullpen for a 6-2 win over the Red Sox on Wednesday night.
"I've been happy with the way it's been going since I got off the disabled list," Porcello said "I feel like I've done well since I came off the DL."
Coming off a rough outing when he was tagged for six runs in six innings against AL East-leading Toronto, Porcello had his third strong start since returning from nearly a month on the disabled list with a strained right triceps.
"He's done extremely well, especially since he came off the disabled list," Boston's interim manager Torey Lovullo said. "He's done a really good job reestablishing himself."
Before going on the DL, Porcello was 5-11 with a 5.81 ERA. He's lowered his ERA nearly a run since his return.
It certainly isn't what Boston expected when it signed him to an $82.5 million, 4-year extension in April, but it's a step in the right direction.
Mookie Betts had two singles for Boston, which had won 11 of 17. The Red Sox scored both runs with two outs in the ninth.
Drew Smyly pitched shutout ball into the seventh inning, and John Jaso's two-run double keyed a three-run eighth for the Rays.
Steven Souza Jr. had four hits, Asdrubal Cabrera had three hits and both hit solo homers. The Rays won for the fourth time in 11 games. Tampa Bay lost the opener of the four-game series Monday, falling into the AL East's basement this late in the season for the first time since 2007.
Smyly (4-2) gave up five hits, struck out seven and walked three in 6 1-3 innings.
Brad Boxberger got the final out for his 37th save.
Making just his 11th start in a season cut short by two stints on the disabled list with left shoulder injuries, Smyly was pulled with runners on first and second. Andrew Bellatti got out of the jam.
Reliever Jean Machi was ejected by home plate umpire Bill Welke after what appeared to be a curveball sailed over Souza Jr.'s head following Cabrera's homer. Souza Jr. then homered over the Green Monster against Roman Mendez.
Tampa Bay moved ahead 1-0 in the seventh. Kevin Kiermaier singled then stole second and third. Daniel Nava, picked up on Aug. 5 after being designated by the Red Sox, then hit a two-out grounder that slipped past second Dustin Pedroia's diving attempt.
Cabrera doubled leading off the eighth and scored on a grounder that third baseman Deven Marrero booted for an error. Jaso had his bases-loaded double against Tommy Layne.
Rays: Manager Kevin Cash said LHP Jake McGee, recovering from surgery on his left knee in mid-August, could return this weekend after he threw a bullpen session Wednesday.
Red Sox: 3B Pablo Sandoval missed his third straight with an upper respiratory infection.
Red Sox SS Xander Bogaerts extended his hitting streak to a career-best 12 games with a ninth-inning single.
Boston's next home win against the Rays will be the 100th in Fenway Park.
Rays: RHP Erasmo Ramirez (10-6) is set to start the series finale Thursday. Tampa Bay has lost his last five starts.
Red Sox: LHP Wade Miley (11-10) is scheduled to start. He's allowed three or fewer runs in his last three starts.
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