BOSTON — While Mike Carp would love to be an everyday player, he is more than comfortable playing in a reserve role.
He showed why Wednesday night.
Carp came off the bench in the eighth inning and drove in the eventual game-winning run, leading the Boston Red Sox to their fourth straight victory, a come-from-behind, 4-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles.
“I couldn’t be happier about the situation I’m in now,” said Carp, one of the final players to make the team in spring training. “It’s tough sometimes not getting the at-bats you want, but to be a part of this team and this clubhouse and the way we go out about our business every day, it’s a dream team, a lot of fun and just a dream season altogether.”
Dustin Pedroia tied the game with a two-out, two-run double in the seventh, John Lackey pitched into the eighth, and Jacoby Ellsbury had two hits and two stolen bases for the Red Sox, who won for the seventh time in their last 10 games. Boston maintained a 2 1/2-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays for first place in the American League East.
Chris Davis hit his major-league-leading 47th home run of the season, and Manny Machado also went deep for the Orioles, who lost for the third time in four games to fall 7 1/2 games behind Boston.
The Red Sox strung together a two-out rally against Tommy Hunter (3-3) in the eighth. Jarrod Saltalamacchia doubled off the Green Monster, and Stephen Drew was intentionally walked. Highly touted prospect Xander Bogaerts — who was 0-for-3 in his Fenway Park debut — was replaced by Carp, who answered the call with Boston’s fourth go-ahead RBI by a pinch hitter this season, tied for the most in the AL.
Carp’s flare barely sailed over the outstretched arm of third baseman Machado as Saltalamacchia scored.
“I’ve gotten stretches where I’ve had opportunities to play a little more than others, but that’s my goal is to come in like tonight, have a big hit and win a ballgame,” Carp said.
Boston manager John Farrell isn’t second-guessing the decision to keep Carp as a reserve.
“The versatility at the time, it came down to him and (Lyle) Overbay,” Farrell said of the spring training battle. “Lyle has gone on to have a good year on his own part (after moving on to the New York Yankees), but Mike Carp in the role he’s been in has thrived.”
The Red Sox were held in check by Bud Norris until they broke through against Baltimore’s bullpen in the seventh.
Francisco Rodriguez surrendered a leadoff double to Drew and a single to Ellsbury. Darren O’Day came in and got Shane Victorino to line out before yielding Pedroia’s double that barely scored Ellsbury from second.
Lackey kept the Red Sox in the game by holding the Orioles to three runs on seven hits over 7 1/3 innings, striking out four and walking one.
Craig Breslow (4-2) pitched two-thirds of an inning for the win. Koji Uehara threw a perfect ninth for his 14th save in 17 opportunities.
Norris surrendered one run on four hits over 5 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts and four walks.
“I think we underestimate how hard it is to pitch 5 1/3 innings on the road in the American League East at this time of year, so I’m going to take it as a positive,” said Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
Baltimore took a 1-0 lead in the first when Machado beat out an infield single and scored on a double by Davis.
Machado then made it 2-0 in the third with his 12th homer of the year, belting an 0-1 offering from Lackey over the Monster.
The Red Sox cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the third on an RBI single by Victorino, who drove in a career-high seven runs Tuesday.
Davis led off the sixth with a solo shot to center, his fifth against Boston this season.
Rays 4, Angels 1: Chris Archer pitched seven strong innings while David DeJesus recorded two hits, an RBI and scored twice as host Tampa Bay snapped a three-game losing streak.
Archer (8-5) allowed one run, five hits, no walks and struck out five before Joel Peralta pitched a perfect eighth and Fernando Rodney matched him in the ninth for his 31st save. Ben Zobrist added two hits and an RBI for the Rays, who moved within two games of Boston in the American League East.
J.B. Shuck and Mike Trout each registered a pair of hits for the Angels, who saw their four-game win streak end. Los Angeles starter Garrett Richards (4-6) struggled through 3 1/3 innings, giving up four runs on seven hits — six singles — and three walks.
Blue Jays 7, Yankees 2: Edwin Encarnacion homered and Todd Redmond pitched effectively into the sixth inning as host Toronto dealt New York a setback in its chase for an American League wild-card spot.
Redmond (2-2) limited New York to two runs on three hits over 5 2/3 innings, fanning seven as Toronto beat New York for just the third time in 16 meetings. Brett Lawrie went 2-for-4 with two RBIs while rookie Ryan Goins added two hits and scored two runs.
Hiroki Kuroda (11-10) had his third straight rough outing and was charged with seven runs — five earned — on nine hits over five innings. The loss dropped the Yankees 5 1/2 games behind Oakland for the second AL wild-card berth.
The New York Mets plan to wait a few more weeks before deciding whether injured pitcher Matt Harvey will need Tommy John surgery on the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.
Harvey and the Mets are hoping to avoid surgery. Harvey said Tuesday that he expects to be ready to pitch again by April 1.
The National League’s All-Star Game starter was 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA and 191 strikeouts in 26 starts.
The Kansas City Royals reached agreement with veteran first baseman Carlos Pena on a minor-league contract.
Pena hit .209 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in 85 games for Houston this season before the Astros released him on July 31. The 35-year-old was assigned to Triple-A Omaha and is likely will be called up by the Royals in September to add a left-handed bat off the bench.
The Atlanta Braves activated second baseman Dan Uggla from the 15-day disabled list after he underwent LASIK eye surgery on Aug. 13.
Uggla was scheduled to start Wednesday night’s game against the Cleveland Indians.
The 33-year-old veteran was struggling at the plate this season before the procedure, hitting .186 (.133 after the All-Star break) with 21 home runs and 53 RBIs and a National League-leading 146 strikeouts. He had attributed his problems to his vision.
Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Josh Johnson will not pitch again this season.
Johnson met recently with Dr. James Andrews, who examined his strained forearm and recommended that the Blue Jays shut him down for the rest of the year. However, Andrews also indicated that Johnson does not need surgery.
The 30-year-old Johnson has not pitched in three weeks and made just 16 starts this year after he came to Toronto as part of a big offseason deal with the Miami Marlins. He finishes 2013 with a disappointing 2-8 record and a 6.20 ERA.
Johnson will be a free agent after the season.