By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON It wasnt the lights-out performance he threw at the Rays in his two previous starts this season, but it was enough. And it was just what the sputtering Red Sox needed as they beat the Rays, 4-3, at Fenway Park.
Josh Beckett went just six innings compared to 17 total in his previous two outings and gave up more hits in the first inning than he had in those two outings combined, but he held the Rays to three runs, two earned on seven hits and a walk with seven strikeouts.
Mike Aviles' two-out solo homer in the fourth hitting the middle of the O in the Sports Authority sign above the Green Monster like a bulls-eye gave the Sox the lead. It was Aviles first home run with the Sox since joining them at the trading deadline.
Daniel Bard returned to his formerly solid form in the eighth inning. He faced four batters, striking out three, walking one.
Jonathan Papelbon earned his 30th save in his first opportunity since Aug. 18.
James Shields took the loss for the Rays, going seven innings (plus one batter in the eighth) giving up four runs on seven hits, three walks, two wild pitches, and a home run with four strikeouts.
The win restores the Sox lead over the Rays in American League wild card race to four games.
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen