Conor Jackson hit a grand slam and Jacoby Ellsbury had an inside-the-park home run as the Boston Red Sox scored seven runs in the seventh inning to win 18-9 and salvage a doubleheader split against the Baltimore Orioles.
The Red Sox, who lost the opener 6-5, hold a two-game advantage over the Tampa Bay Rays in the race for the American League’s wild-card spot. Tampa had last night off.
Boston is five games behind the AL East division-leading New York Yankees, who won 6-4 at home against Minnesota as Mariano Rivera got his 602nd career save to set a Major League Baseball record.
Rivera surpassed Trevor Hoffman as the saves leader when he struck out Minnesota’s Chris Parmelee to complete a perfect ninth inning at Yankee Stadium in New York. Rivera’s save, his 43rd this season, helped New York hang on after starting pitcher A.J. Burnett gave up four runs and was pulled in the fifth inning.
At the beginning of September, the Red Sox had a 1 1/2-game lead in the AL East and a nine-game advantage over the Rays. Boston has won five of 19 games since then.
In the first game of the doubleheader at Fenway Park, J.J. Hardy, Robert Andino and Nolan Reimold had home runs for Baltimore. In the second game, which featured 13 pitchers and 33 hits, the Red Sox scored 11 runs in the first three innings and then broke open the contest with their seventh-inning outburst.
In the National League, the St. Louis Cardinals won 4-3 at Philadelphia to pull within 2 1/2 games of Atlanta in the chase for the wild card. The Braves lost 6-5 at Florida when Omar Infante hit a game-ending two-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning.
The defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants, who have won eight straight games, are 3 1/2 games behind Atlanta and a game behind St. Louis in the wild-card race. The Giants were off last night.