Wednesday August 21, 2013 | 08:20 AM

The Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox are officially tied atop the American League East. But the Rays have two fewer losses and are percentage points ahead of Boston.

AL EAST
Rays 72-52
Red Sox 74-54
Orioles 67-58 (5.5)
Yankees 66-59 (6.5)
Jays 57-69 (16)

The fateful decision for John Farrell Tuesday was bringing in newly-acquired reliever Brayan Villarreal, a pitcher known for his control troubles, with bases loaded in the ninth inning. Villarreal walked in the winning run on four pitches.

Farrell said he was saving Koji Uehara for later ... but it seemed Uehara was needed in the present, not the future.

Junichi Tazawa has been solid in the bullpen, but his seven blown saves (including Tuesday) is a concern.

Xander Bogaerts made his debut, went 0-for-3 and looked good in the field.

Anthony Ranaudo (1.93 ERA) made a fine start for Pawtucket: 6 2/3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K ... Jackie Bradley Jr.  reached base three times with a BB and two HBP's.

The Sea Dogs lost, although Garin Cecchini reached base three times (single, two walks), to up his OBP to .423.

Salem second baseman Mookie Betts (.298) looks like someone to keep an eye on. Betts, 20, a fifth-round draft pick in 2011, went 3-for-5 on Tuesday.

The Sea Dogs play at noon today. Mickey Pena, up from Salem, gets the start. Henry Owens, originally scheduled to start today, will start Thursday in Trenton.

EL East Wild Card Race
Trenton 66-62
New Hampshire 63-64 (2.5 games back)
Portland 61-67 (5)
New Britain 60-69 (6.5)

About this Blog

Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.

Follow his thoughts on the Boston Red Sox and Portland Sea Dogs on Clearing the Bases

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