ST. PETERSBURG - The Boston Red Sox won Game 4 of American Legion Division Series Tuesday night at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
It was must-win for Tampa Bay with Boston on top, 2-1, in the best of five series. Boston advances to play in the Championship Series, starting Saturday, Oct. 12.
Rays' starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson got in trouble early, walking two in the second inning before Daniel Nava hit a single to load the bases with no outs. Tampa Bay's coach Joe Maddon elected to make a pitching change, bringing in Jamey Wright to finish out the inning. Wright started with a strike out, then a double play kept Boston scoreless.
Wright walked Will Middlebrooks to start the third and Maddon decided to bring in pitcher Matt Moore as Jacoby Ellsbury took his turn at bat. Rays got the double play for two quick outs. Moore struck out Shane Victorino to end the inning.
Boston's starting pitcher Jake Peavy kept the Rays silent through two before Yunel Escobar got the first hit of the night with a single for Tampa Bay. Jose Lobaton, the hero for the Rays in Game 3, hit the Rays' second hit of the night, putting two runners on base with one out. The threat was short-lived as a double play ended the inning.
David Ortiz hit a single in the fourth, following a pop fly by Dustin Pedroia. Moore struck out Mike Napoli, walked Daniel Nava and struck out Jarrod Saltalamacchia, stranding two. Will Meyers hit a single to start the fourth inning for the Rays. But Boston refused to give more, quickly retiring the side.
The fifth inning started with the teams tied 0-0 with three hits for the Rays and two for Boston.
Alex Torres took the mound for the Rays. After a pop fly by Stephen Drew, Middlebrooks hit a single, bringing Ellsbury to bat. Ellsbury hit a ground ball to get on base, but Middlebrooks was called out at second. Torres hit Victorino on the elbow with a pitch sending him to first and advancing Ellsbury to second with two outs. Pedroia ground out to end the inning.
Two pop flies and a strikeout for the Rays ended the fifth with the score 0-0 and three hits for both teams.
Ortiz ground out to start the sixth for Boston, followed by a pop fly by Napoli and a strike out by Daniel Nava.
Tampa Bay began the inning with a double by Escobar. Lobaton ground out, advancing Escobar to third base. DeJesus hit a single, sending Escobar home, allowing the Rays to put the first point on the board. Meyers hit a pop fly for the second out, and Boston decided to make a pitcher change. Craig Breslow took over on the mound for Boston and struck out Loney to end the inning with the Rays on top 1-0 and ahead in hits 5-3.
Jake McGee drew the pitching duties for Rays in the seventh. Jonny Gomes hit a pop fly for out one. McGee walked Xander Bogaerts, putting the tying run on base with only one out. McGee struck out Middlebrooks after getting to a count of 3-2. Ellsbury hit a single, advancing Bogaerts to third, and Tampa Bay called time out for another pitcher change.
Joel Peralta took the mound against Victorino. A wild pitch at the plate allowed Bogaerts to score, tying the game with two outs and Ellsbury on third. Victorino hit a single, sending Ellsbury home, giving Boston the lead. Pedroia kept the momentum for the Red Sox with a single. But, Ortiz struck out, ending the threat.
The Rays took their turn at bat in the seventh with Boston ahead, 2-1, with six hits to five for Tampa Bay. Breslow stayed on the mound as Evan Longoria led the batting rotation. Longoria struck out. Ben Zobrist struck out. Desmond Jennings struck out.
Rays bullpen was nearly gone by the eighth inning, with six pitchers taking a turn against the Red Sox. Peralta returned to the mound to strike out Napoli. Nava drew the walk, but got caught stealing for out two. David Ross struck out, giving the Rays' offense another chance to score.
Delmon Young hit a short hop to first for out one. Escobar singled to get on base to get things rolling. Maddon sent pinch hitter Matt Joyce in to bat for Lobotan, and Boston called time to bring Junichi Tazawa to the mound. Tazawa struck Joyce out and the Red Sox elected to go back to the bullpen and bring up Koji Uehara to go against DeJesus. Uehara did his job, striking out DeJesus, keeping Boston on top going to the ninth.
Rays' closer Fernando Rodney took over the pitching in the ninth, as Jose Molina took over as catcher. Rodney walked Bogaerts. Rodney came back to strike out Middlebooks for out one. A wild pitch to Ellsbury allowed Bogaerts to advance to second. Rodney then walked Ellsbury, giving Boston two runners with only one out.
Rays last two pitchers were warming up in the bullpen as Rodney pitched three balls to Victorino before getting his first strike. A ball hit foul brought the count to 3-2. Rodney hit Victorino, the second time a Rays pitcher hit Boston's right fielder during the game.
Maddon called time to go to the bullpen to call up one of his last two remaining pitchers after Boston loaded the bases. Chris Archer came to the mound to try to save the inning. A pop fly by Pedroia sent Bogaerts home, putting Boston ahead by two.
The Rays chose to bring in the ninth pitcher of the night to finish out the inning. Wesley Wright faced Ortiz with two outs and two runners on base. Ortiz grounded out, ending the threat.
The pressure was on in the ninth as the Rays fought to make it to Game 5 of the ALDS. Uehara stayed on the mound for Boston. Meyers led off the rotation for Tampa Bay's last at-bat. Meyers hit a pop fly for out one. Loney took his turn and hit a ground ball for out two. Longoria took his bat to the plate as the Ray's last hope. Longoria quickly drew two strikes, then a ball and was almost struck in the head for ball two. Longoria struck out, giving Boston its 100th win of the season and the division series victory.
A home run in the bottom of the ninth kept Tampa Bay alive, as the Rays won Game 3 of the American League Division Series, 5-4, Monday night at Tropicana Field. Boston Red Sox won the first two games of the American League Division Series at Fenway Park, outscoring the Rays 12-2 in the first and 7-4, in the second.