BOSTON — All things considered, the Boston Red Sox had to consider themselves fortunate to split Tuesday’s day-night doubleheader with the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Red Sox, playing both games without the injured David Ortiz and Marco Scutaro, and resting a banged-up and sore Kevin Youkilis in the second game, collected only six hits on the day.

With three hits in each game, they won the first 3-1 and fell 6-2 in the second.

“We didn’t get a lot of hits today. Fortunately we ended up getting a win in the first game, but they pitched us tough all day and the guy (today) will be real tough, too,” Boston Manager Terry Francona said, looking ahead at facing David Price in the series finale.

Both James Shields and Jeff Niemann pitched three-hitters against the Red Sox, marking the fewest hits Boston has had in a doubleheader since collecting five in Baltimore on Sept. 2, 1974.

The split dropped the Red Sox a half-game behind the New York Yankees in the AL East.

The Yankees beat the Kansas City Royals 9-7 on Tuesday night.

Jacoby Ellsbury homered in both games, backing Jon Lester’s seven strong innings in the opener, and then connecting for his career-best 22nd in a second game that saw the Red Sox turn a triple play but also help the Rays to five of their runs with fielding mishaps.

After the second game, Francona announced Ortiz will miss an undetermined amount of games because of bursitis in his right heel.

“He got an MRI and it showed the bursitis in his heel,” Francona said. “We’re going to get him out of his spikes for a couple of days, get him in a little bit of a walking boot, just to kind of alleviate some of the pressure.”

As far as how long Ortiz will be out, Francona said, “We’ll keep re-evaluating him, I’m sure, every couple of days, but we want to get him off that for a little while.

“It’s not going to be a (disabled list) but we’re going to have to keep him out there for a little bit and we don’t know what that (length of time) is.”

Ortiz, batting .300 with 24 home runs and 79 RBI, was a late scratch from the opener with what was first called an illness.

The highlight of a second game in which Erik Bedard fell to 0-1 in his third start with Boston (4-8 overall) was an around-the-horn triple play started by third baseman Jed Lowrie in the fourth inning against the Rays.

With runners on first and second, Sean Rodriguez grounded to Lowrie. Lowrie stepped on third, threw to second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who then relayed on to Adrian Gonzalez to complete the club’s first triple play since John Valentin turned one by himself against Seattle on July 8, 1994.

“At the time, it’s a big play in the game,” said Francona. “It’s first and second, nobody out, they’ve got a chance to extend (the lead) and all of a sudden the inning’s over. We get off the field and it really cuts into the pitch count, probably gets him an extra inning to pitch.

“It was fun to watch.”

Lester improved to 12-6 and Jonathan Papelbon posted his 23rd straight save in the day game, while Jason Varitek homered in the night game. for the Red Sox.

Bedard yielded just one earned run in six innings in Game 2.

“Pretty good,” Francona said.

“Again, spinning that breaking ball really well. We didn’t help a lot at times. It’s not always just errors, it’s maybe the extra opportunities, things like that, but he’s continuing that progression of getting stronger, getting that pitch count up.

“He just fires strikes, with all his pitches.”

 

NOTES: Bedard is winless in three starts with the Red Sox. Red Sox right-hander John Lackey, who is on a six-decision winning streak and is 11-8 despite a 6.13 ERA, faces left-hander David Price (10-10, 3.76 ERA) in today’s matinee series finale. Lackey is one win behind Jon Lester for the staff lead. Lester was the winning pitcher in Game 1. Tuesday’s opener was the first game between the teams since the Red Sox beat the Rays 1-0 in 16 innings on July 17 in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Red Sox, just off a six-game trip to Minnesota and Seattle, are home for just the three games with Tampa Bay. They will then head out on an eight-game trip to Kansas City and Texas.