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
Among the reactions to the news that Bobby Valentine was possibly being considered to be the US amassador to Japan in President Donald Trump’s administration was this beauty from Kevin Youkilis.
Valentine famously called out Youkilis early in his stormy tenure as Red Sox manager in 2012. Remember? "I don't think he's as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason," Bobby V said of Youk at the time.
The Red Sox traded Youkilis to the White Sox for two not-future Hall of Famers, outfielder Brent Lillibridge and right-hander Zach Stewart, later that season.
Youkilis, now Tom Brady’s brother-in-law by the way, had a 21-game stint playing in Japan in 2014 before retiring from baseball.
Major league manager. Inventor of the wrap sandwich. Champion ballroom dancer. And…
US ambassador to Japan?
Bobby Valentine is on the short list for that position in President Donald Trump’s administration, according to a WEEI.com report.
The former Red Sox manager (fired after a 69-93 season and last-place finish in 2012), and ex-New York Mets and Texas Rangers, skipper, also managed the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons.
When asked by the New York Daily News if he's being considered for the post, Valentine responded: "I haven't been contacted by anyone on Trump's team."
Would he be interested?
"I don't like to deal in hypotheticals," Valentine told the Daily News.
Valentine, 66, has known the President-elect and Trump's brother Bob since the 1980s, is close to others on Trump’s transition team and has had preliminary discussions about the ambassador position, sources told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford.
Valentine, currently the athletic director of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., is also friendly with current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who, like Valentine, attended the University of Southern California.