ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A former teammate created a speed bump for the playoff-contending Tampa Bay Rays.

Nathan Eovaldi pitched six gritty innings, Christian Vazquez hit a three-run homer and the Boston Red Sox beat the Rays 7-4 Sunday.

Tampa Bay dropped into a tie with Cleveland for the second AL wild card. The Rays won the first two games of the series by identical 5-4 scores in 11 innings.

“Every loss now, you’ve got to find a way to bounce back,” Tampa Bay Manager Kevin Cash said. “Eventually you do run out of mulligans. We’re not there, but we’ve got to make sure we don’t get to that point.”

The defending World Series champion Red Sox were eliminated from postseason play Friday night.

Eovaldi (2-0) gave up three runs and seven hits in picking up his first win as a starter since last Sept. 24. The right-hander had elbow surgery to remove a loose body in late April and has been building up innings over the last month.

“I want to finish strong,” Eovaldi said. “I feel like I’ve missed so much time as it is now.”

Eovaldi was traded by Tampa Bay to Boston in late July 2018 and won both his playoff starts while helping the Red Sox win the World Series.

“Did an outstanding job,” Red Sox Manager Alex Cora said. “Good to see him finishing the season strong.”

Boston designated hitter J.D. Martinez drove in two runs and is one RBI away from his third consecutive and fourth overall season of at least 35 homers and 100 RBI.

Rays two-way player Brendan McKay got his first major league homer with a solo shot off Trevor Kelley as a pinch-hitter in the ninth.

“My family was here today,” McKay said. “They came down, I think, last night and decided to come to a game today, and they ultimately get to see it. Exciting.”

Martinez had an RBI single and Vazquez hit his homer off Ryan Yarbrough (11-5) as Boston went up 4-0 in the first inning.

Vazquez has 22 homers in 133 games this year. He went deep 10 times over 291 games during his first four seasons.

The Rays scored a run in each of the first three innings off Eovaldi, including Joey Wendle’s third-inning homer, to get within 4-3.

Boston made it 6-3 in the fourth. Andrew Kittredge replaced Yarbrough with one out and walked Martinez with the bases loaded, then threw a wild pitch.

Yarbrough allowed six runs and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings.

“All-in-all, very frustrating today,” Yarbrough said.

Tampa Bay All-Star second baseman Brandon Lowe, out since July 3 because of a bruised right shin and a strained left quadriceps, was reinstated from the 60-day injured list and went 1 for 3 with a walk.


Red Sox left-hander David Price will have surgery Thursday to remove a cyst in his left wrist but is expected to be ready for spring training next year. … Outfielder Mookie Betts, who played the previous two days after missing a week because of left foot inflammation, had a scheduled day off. … Outfielder Andrew Benintendi (jammed left thumb) was out of the lineup for the second straight game but could start Monday.

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