ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Red Sox got their bullpen started in the third inning Tuesday night when Felix Doubront walked three batters in a row and Ben Zobrist lined a two-run single to center field.
“He was on the verge of coming out of that game,” manager Bobby Valentine said.
But Doubront hung in there and so did the Sox, who rebounded from a three-run deficit to beat the Rays, 7-5.
Doubront (11-9) went six innings to get his first victory since July 18. He allowed three runs on one hit with five walks and five strikeouts. The Sox have won four of their last five games.
The Rays have lost four straight and seven of eight. Their postseason hopes, while still flickering, are fading fast.
Ryan Lavarnway had two hits and two RBIs for the Sox, who tied the game in the fifth inning and took the lead in the sixth. Cody Ross had two hits, drew a walk, and scored two runs.
The Sox have won nine of their 14 meetings against the Rays with four games left. They are 5-2 at Tropicana Field.
Doubront fell behind, 3-0, in the third inning. But he retired 11 of the final 12 batters he faced and handed a 7-3 lead to the bullpen in the seventh.
The 24-year-old lefthander has pitched effectively in his last two starts, giving up five earned runs over 12⅓ innings despite 10 walks.
“I’m getting back my confidence,” Doubront said. “Today it was just one tough inning. I handled that and I came back doing the best I can and giving an opportunity for the guys to score and win the game.”
The bullpen allowed the Rays some hope. Clayton Mortensen hit Carlos Pena with two outs in the seventh before walking Desmond Jennings and B.J. Upton. Zobrist again took advantage with a two-run single off Junichi Tazawa.
But Tazawa got out of that inning. Craig Breslow got three outs in the eighth before Andrew Bailey closed out the Rays for his fifth save. The Rays finished with only three hits.
Trailing, 3-0, the Sox started their rally in the fourth when Ross doubled and scored on a single by James Loney. Jacoby Ellsbury had an RBI single and Dustin Pedroia a sacrifice fly in the fifth.
A throwing error by Sean Rodriguez gave the Sox the go-ahead run in the sixth. Wade Davis then allowed three runs on two hits and two walks in the seventh.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia had an RBI single and Lavarnway a two-run double.
“That was a big hit for Ryan,” Valentine said. “He’s been searching for that one. He kept battling and drove in the runs.”
Bogar to interview
Bench coach Tim Bogar will interview with the Astros for their vacant managerial position Wednesday in the Tampa Bay area.
Bogar, 45, is in his fourth season on the staff. He has four seasons of minor league managing experience with the Indians and Astros.
Bogar also played for the Astros from 1997-2000.
The Astros, who have the worst record in the majors, fired Brad Mills Aug. 18. Mills was the Red Sox bench coach under Terry Francona from 2004-09.
Houston also has interest in Rays bench coach Dave Martinez and Nationals third base coach Bo Porter. Interim manager Tony DeFrancesco also is a candidate.
University of Connecticut football coach Paul Pasqualoni told reporters Tuesday that athletic director Warde Manuel is “working very hard” on plans to play Notre Dame at Fenway Park in 2014.
As the Globe reported, the Red Sox are interested in the two schools and have held preliminary talks regarding a possible game.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, a native of Everett, Mass., and a Sox fan, is in favor of the idea.
“I think it’d be cool,” Kelly told reporters.
“I’d like to do it. Being a Boston guy, baseball hasn’t been very good there, so maybe we’ll bring some football.”
Irish athletic director Jack Swarbrick said the school has work to do on its future schedules given its recent scheduling agreement with the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Lackey takes mound
John Lackey threw two simulated innings from the mound at Tropicana Field before the game. Facing teammates Guillermo Quiroz, Ivan De Jesus, Daniel Nava, and Mauro Gomez, Lackey threw 27 pitches plus warm-ups. The righthander will next report to Fort Myers and is scheduled to start an intrasquad game Sunday. That will essentially end his pitching for the season. Lackey, who had Tommy John elbow surgery last Nov. 1, should enter spring training without any restrictions . . . Jon Lester was the team’s nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award for community service. Tim Wakefield won the award in 2010 and David Ortiz in 2011 . . . Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler and pitching coach Rich Sauveur will join the Red Sox coaching staff on Friday. Pawtucket lost the Triple A national championship game, 10-3, Tuesday in Durham, N.C. The Red Sox could add a few players from Pawtucket as soon as Wednesday. Righthanders Pedro Beato and Zach Stewart are on the 40-man roster along with infielder Danny Valencia, and outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin . . . Reliever Alfredo Aceves has pitched only one inning since Sept. 8. That may be because of a series of incidents that have included a run-in with Pedroia and another with Valentine. Aceves, Valentine said, is healthy and could be used in long relief if needed.Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.