Settling the Score: Friday’s results

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Red Sox fans can breathe a little bit easier this morning.

Josh Beckett was solid in his return from a sprained ankle last night, allowing three runs (two earned) over six innings as the Red Sox defeated the Rays 4-3 to extend their lead in the AL Wild Card race to four games with 12 games remaining.

Beckett, who hadn’t pitched since September 5, threw the first quality start by a Red Sox pitcher since September 6. Mike Aviles, who played third base in place of the injured Kevin Youkilis, hit the decisive go-ahead solo homer off James Shields in the bottom of the fourth inning. The Rays stole a season-high seven bases in the loss.

The two teams will continue their four-game series later this afternoon when Jon Lester takes on Jeff Niemann.

Your Friday box scores:

Rays 3, Red Sox 4

Cardinals 4, Phillies 2 (11 innings)

Mets 12, Braves 2

Angels 3, Orioles 8

Astros 3, Cubs 4 (12 innings)

Marlins 3, Nationals 0

Yankees 4, Blue Jays 5

Brewers 6, Reds 3 

White Sox 6, Royals 7

Indians 7, Twins 6

Tigers 3, Athletics 1

Giants 9, Rockies 1

Diamondbacks 0, Padres 2

Rangers 0, Mariners 4

Pirates 2, Dodgers 7

53-year-old Rafael Palmeiro homers in independent league ball

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It was announced earlier this month that 53-year-old Rafael Palmeiro signed a contract with the Cleburne Railroaders of the independent American Association, joining his son, former minor leaguer Patrick Palmeiro. The four-time All-Star went 0-for-8 to begin his stint with the club before launching a solo homer in the fifth inning last night. Check it out below.

If we’re being technical here, that was his first home run since July 30, 2005. He hit the homer off 28-year-old Trey McNutt, former prospect with the Cubs and Padres. Palmeiro made his major league debut in 1986, three years before McNutt was born.

Palmeiro told Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic last December that he was thinking about a comeback, but he understandably didn’t garner any serious consideration from MLB teams. This comeback attempt might not lead anywhere, but hey, he gets to show that he can still mash while hitting in the same lineup with his son. Palmeiro did that once before with the independent Sugar Land Skeeters in 2015, though it was just a one-game thing. As for the Railroaders, the national media attention can only help them.

Palmeiro is one of just six players in MLB history to reach 3,000 hits and 500 home runs, but he’s been a disgraced figure in the game since a failed drug test for performance-enhancing drugs in 2005. He dropped off the Hall of Fame ballot in 2014.