BOSTON, OCT. 1 -- The elements were here, the conditions never better. The Chicago White Sox brought a package of incentives and a potentially haunting Ghost of Red Sox Past to Fenway Park tonight.

But the Red Sox continued a week of playing by a distinctly untraditional script, getting a game-saving defensive play by Wade Boggs and Dwight Evans's RBI single in the eighth inning to craft a come-from-ahead, 4-3 victory before 31,118 that clinched at least a tie for the American League East title.

"It feels like" the race is over, Evans said, "but the job's not done yet. We want to go out of this thing winning. We don't want to back into it. I never would have imagined we'd have had a season like this. We've pulled together, overcome a lot of adversity and had a great season. But we have to finish it out right."

The Red Sox (87-73), who won for the fifth time in six games, moved two games ahead of the second-place Toronto Blue Jays -- 6-3 losers at Baltimore -- with two contests to play. Much of the crowd's most boisterous reactions tonight were reserved for the posting of the Orioles-Blue Jays scores -- until this drab game brought a few late-inning twists.

The Red Sox carried a 3-0 lead into the eighth inning, but rookie starter Dana Kiecker served up a leadoff double to Ivan Calderon and reliever Larry Andersen came on to yield the rest of a three-run uprising. Andersen allowed a double to Lance Johnson and -- two strikeouts later -- run-scoring singles to Dan Pasqua and Robin Ventura for a 3-3 tie.

It might have been even worse. After Ventura's single, Scott Fletcher connected with a Jeff Reardon fastball and sent a rocket-blast grounder down the third-base line. But Boggs dove to his right to smother the shot, then got to his feet quickly and threw in time to nip Fletcher at first.

"My main objective was stopping the ball to save the run," Boggs said. "It was an added bonus that we got the out. I got more on the throw than I thought I could. . . . That's probably the most important contribution I've made this season, with my glove or my bat."

And Boston responded immediately thereafter. Boggs drew a walk from Ken Patterson to start the Red Sox' half of the eighth but was thrown out trying for third on Ellis Burks's line drive off the Green Monster. Burks ended up at second on the play and scored when Evans followed an intentional walk to Mike Greenwell by grounding a fastball from Barry Jones (11-4) over second base for the game-winning hit.

Reardon (5-3) got the final four outs to earn the victory and put the Red Sox within one win -- or one Toronto loss -- of their third division title in five years.

Perhaps even their first World Series championship in 72 years could follow. After all, these Red Sox are not following the excruciating form of normal Boston clubs, having won two of three from the Blue Jays over a tense weekend.

"All we can think about for now is {Tuesday's} game," catcher Tony Pena said. "A little bit of the weight was lifted tonight, but we can't let ourselves think it's over yet."

But even a desperate-to-disappoint Carlton Fisk could not could not add to his former club's long list of demons tonight. Kiecker survived a rocky start to limit the White Sox to six hits and one run over seven innings.

Fenway was a house of abundant ironies today. For intrigue, there was the White Sox -- who began the day with 93 victories but a nine-game deficit in the AL West -- reduced to playing the spoiler's role against the 87-win Red Sox. And there was the New England-wide fear that the primary architect of Boston's latest baseball nightmare would be that former Red Sox icon, Fisk.

The catcher was unsuccessful earlier today in hiding his desire to play a part in another late-season Red Sox derailing. Fisk insists has no resentment about being unwanted by Boston when he signed with the White Sox as a free agent in 1981 after nine years here.

But asked about the Red Sox' seeming paranoia that he'd beat them in this series, Fisk -- who has averaged one home run for every 11.4 at-bats vs. Boston said: "They wouldn't have that fear if they had allowed me to play here."

Fisk walked in the first and singled in third, then crushed a Kiecker fastball toward left field with two outs and a runner aboard in the fifth -- only to watch Greenwell make a leaping, twisting catch on the warning track.

Andersen struck him out in the eighth. "I'd have liked to beat them -- a lot," Fisk said afterward. "But I don't have any ill will. They've earned what they've gotten. We made them earn it tonight."

Kiecker had surrendered just four hits and one run over 13 innings during his previous two starts, but he quickly was in trouble tonight -- although the White Sox helped Kiecker escape from a two-hit, two-walk first without yielding a run.

Third baseman Ventura's throwing error on Jody Reed's two-out bouncer led to Carlos Quintana's RBI single off the left field wall in the third.

The Red Sox finished Chicago starter Greg Hibbard and made it 3-0 in the fourth. Greenwell led off with a double, went to third on Evans's single and scored on Tom Brunansky's groundout. One out later, Luis Rivera's double to the left-center field alley brought home Greenwell.

"We made it harder than it should have been, but we survived," Boston Manager Joe Morgan said. "Now we go on to the next day. There's still time left. We've still got to do it."