Four Real? Rays stave off Sox 10-7-13

Koji Uehara took the loss after giving up a walk-off solo homer to
Jose Lobaton as the Rays beat the Red Sox 5-4 in ALDS Game Three
on Monday night at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg (AP Photo)

Jan-Christian Sorensen Contributing Writer

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have ourselves a series.

The Tampa Bay Rays staved off elimination for the fourth time in the last eight days on Monday night at Tropicana Field, walking off with a 5-4 win over the visiting American League East Division Champion Red Sox and cutting Boston’s lead in the five-game AL Division Series to 2-1.

Evan Longoria, who was 1 for 18 in the series, celebrated his birthday in fine style in the fifth, stroking a three-run bomb to left off Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz to tie the game up at 3-3. Jose Lobaton ended up winning it for the Rays in the ninth with a two-out solo drive to center off Koji Uehara as the Rays out-hit the Sox 11-7.

With the win, the Rays improve to 5-3 all-time in postseason elimination games. Buchholz went six innings and gave up three runs on seven hits while striking out five and walking three to see his ERA rise to 4.50, but it was Uehara who shouldered the loss after a bullpen bridge was provided by Craig Breslow, Junichi Tazawa, Franklin Morales and Brandon Workman.

Prior to this game, the Sox had been 12-0 in 2013 when scoring three or more runs with Buchholz on the bump.

Rodney gave up the tying run in the top of the ninth but ended up winning the game after Lobaton’s homer in the bottom half of the frame. Tampa Bay starter Alex Cobb went five innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on five hits and two walks and striking out five, while Alex Torres, Joel Peralta and Jake McGee came on to provide three innings of scoreless relief until Rodney was called on in the ninth.

Here are the four at-bats that changed the game:

1. Long., And Gone: In the fifth with the Rays down 3-0, Evan Longoria tied up the game with one swing of the bat, ripping a Clay Buchholz changeup into the left-field stands to drive in three. It was Longoria’s ninth career homer in 29 postseason games.

2. The Night Is Young: In the eighth with one out, pinch-hitter Delmon Young grounded out to Mike Napoli, who hesitated long enough to let Sam Fuld score from third before he touched first for the second out, giving Tampa Bay a 4-3 lead.

3. Dustin Does It: In the ninth, after Shane Victorino laid down a sacrifice bunt to move runners to second and third with only one out, Dustin Pedroia ripped a Fernando Rodney changeup into a groundout that allowed Xander Bogaerts to score and tie the game up at 4-4.

4. Tanked: In the ninth, closer Koji Uehara came on and recorded two quick outs before tossing a splitter that Jose Lobaton took for a long ride out to the aquarium in center field to give the Rays a 5-4 walk-off win. It was Koji’s first home run allowed since June 30.

Tomorrow, Jake Peavy — 12-5 with a 4.17 ERA in the regular season — takes the ball against Jeremy Hellickson (12-10, 5.17 ERA in 2013) in Game Four of the series at the Trop. First pitch is set for 5:30 p.m. EST.

Twitter: @jan_doh