Boston’s Hunter Renfroe throws his bat after hitting a two-run home run against the Tampa Bay Rays in the eighth inning Wednesday at Fenway Park in Boston. Winslow Townson/Associated Press

BOSTON — Hunter Renfroe hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning and threw out Joey Wendle trying for a triple from deep center field for the final out of the ninth as the Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1 Wednesday night.

Renfore’s big bat and strong arm helped the Red Sox avoid a three-game sweep against the AL East-leading Rays.

He drove a hanging slider from reliever JT Chargois (5-1) over the Green Monster in left field just after Boston had fallen behind in what had been a scoreless tie through the first seven innings.

A half-inning later, the right fielder tracked down Wendle’s drive toward the deepest part of Fenway Park after center fielder Danny Santana dived and missed. Renfroe’s one-hopper from just in front of the warning track reached third baseman Bobby Dalbec just in time to tag the sliding Wendle.

Renfroe also threw out Manuel Margot for the last out of the fourth inning when he tried for second on a base hit toward the right field corner. Umpires reviewed the play for about a minute before confirming the initial call.

Boston pulled within nine games of Tampa Bay for the division lead and moved a half-game ahead of the Yankees for the first AL wild card.

Tampa Bay’s Nelson Cruz drove in the game’s first run with a single up the middle off Garrett Richards in the eighth, driving in Brandon Lowe after he reached on a two-out single and Wander Franco walked.

Richards (7-7) got the win and Hansel Robles picked up his 12th save. Nathan Eovaldi pitched seven shutout innings for Boston, striking out eight and allowing just three hits and two walks.

Shane McClanahan pitched five scoreless innings for the Rays, holding Boston to three hits and a walk, striking out three.

The game was delayed for a couple of minutes in the fifth after a fan reached over the wall and touched the ball on a foul pop as Santana tried to get under it and attempted to make a catch. The fan, who got a hand on the ball but couldn’t hang on, was escorted out by security during the delay, drawing a mix of cheers and boos from nearby fans.

NOTES: Santana, on the COVID-19-related IL since Sunday as a precaution, returned to the lineup and started in left field. … Manager Alex Cora said the Red Sox were still trying to piece together which of the eight players still on the COVID-related list could return, including shortstop Xander Bogaerts, and when. “It’s not going to be easy, obviously, because there’s been some down time but at the same time, we hope everything goes well and we can get them sooner rather than later,” Cora said.

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