ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Rays are still afloat in the AL division series.
Jose Lobaton hit a solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning into the giant fish tank beyond the center-field wall, and Tampa Bay staved off elimination once again by beating the Boston Red Sox 5-4 Monday night.
The Rays cut Boston’s lead in the best-of-five series to 2-1. Game 4 is tonight at Tropicana Field, with Jake Peavy starting for the Red Sox against Jeremy Hellickson.
Look at this whole week working up to today, and then this game is even more dramatic than the other games we had already won, manager Joe Maddon said. It’s really an incredible day for the Rays.
Tampa Bay took a win-or-go-home game for the fourth time in nine days. The Rays did it with an unlikely stroke as Lobaton, who came off the bench late in the game, connected against Red Sox closer Koji Uehara.
It’s unbelievable. It’s something you can’t explain, Lobaton said. We never give up. We’re going to keep fighting.
Back home after two weeks on the road, the Rays gave a sellout crowd of 33,675 little to cheer until Evan Longoria homered on his 28th birthday. Longoria’s three-run shot off Clay Buchholz with two outs in the fifth rallied Tampa Bay to a 3-all tie.
Pinch-hitter Delmon Young put the Rays ahead 4-3 with an RBI grounder in the eighth.
The Red Sox tied it in the ninth against Rays closer Fernando Rodney. Dustin Pedroia’s RBI grounder made it 4-all.
Rodney got the win when Lobaton homered to right-center.
Uehara did not give up a home run in his final 37 regular-season appearances.
That was an exciting game – well-played game, Boston manager John Farrell said.
Rays starter Alex Cobb settled down after a shaky first inning in which he gave up a leadoff single to Jacoby Ellsbury, hit a batter with a pitch and walked David Ortiz. But the Red Sox got only one run out of it, when second baseman Ben Zobrist made a throwing error while trying to turn a double play.
Cobb, celebrating his 26th birthday, retired eight in a row before walking Ortiz leading off the fourth. Mike Napoli followed with a single for the second hit off Cobb, yet Boston was unable to take advantage.
Ellsbury scored Boston’s first two runs, on Zobrist’s throwing error in the first and Cobb’s wild pitch in the fifth. Ortiz’s fifth-inning RBI single put the Red Sox up 3-0.