By Bradley Walker, 1010 Sports

BOSTON (CBS) A month ago, the Tampa Bay Rays were a long shot in a highly competitive AL playoff picture. But a strong September has taken this team right back into the thick of things as they chase Boston for the AL Wild Card spot.

Tampa Bay defeated the Boston Red Sox 8-5 at Fenway Park Sunday afternoon and now sit two games behind them in the AL Wild Card race. The Rays have fared well against the Sox this year with a 12-6 record on the season against the men in red.

David Price started for the Rays, but a scary moment in the third inning caused the Rays’ ace to make an early exit. Mike Aviles hit a liner back at Price that struck him in the chest.

The Rays’ medical staff came on the scene to make sure Price was not severely injured. Besides a chest contusion, he was fine and remained in the game to pitch one more inning before Jake McGee came on in the fifth to relieve Price of his pain.

The Tampa Bay offense rattled Tim Wakefield in the first, with a double by Johnny Damon and two singles from Matt Joyce and Desomond Jennings to give the Rays a 3-0 lead.  They increased their lead in the fourth and fifth from good base running from Jennings and poor defense from the Red Sox.

Boston could not get it done at the plate either. The Rays bullpen, especially Jake McGee, did a good job to get through five innings after Price left the game due to injury.

To sum up yesterday’s game, the Rays are playing like a playoff contender, while Boston continues to play mediocre baseball during the most important stretch of the season.

Joe Maddon believes in his young team, and it is clear that the Rays are in no mood to leave the party early. They will travel to New York to take on the Yankees in a crucial three-game series that could be the deciding factor in their pursuit of Boston.



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