There won't be another Game 5.
The Boston Red Sox managed to avoid the same fate of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night, earning a 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field to advance to the ALCS.
John Farrell's squad left 10 men on base in the thrilling pitchers' duel, but Shane Victorino came through with a clutch, game-winning RBI in the seventh inning, and Craig Breslow earned the win by following up a fantastic Jake Peavy start with a dominant relief performance.
Joe Maddon treated this one like a true elimination game, pulling starter Jeremy Hellickson after he loaded the bases in the second inning and using nine pitchers in total.
It worked brilliantly for six innings, as veteran Jamey Wright worked out of the second-inning jam and Matt Moore and Alex Torres each pitched two scoreless innings.
But immediately after the Rays took the lead on a David DeJesus single, Jake McGee allowed two baserunners in the seventh before getting pulled. Joel Peralta then let Xander Bogaerts score on a wild pitch before giving up an infield RBI single to Victorino, giving the Sox the 2-1 lead.
Although Peavy was credited with the no-decision, he matched Maddon's pitcher-by-committee strategy for much of the game and finished with an efficient final line of 5.2 innings, five hits, zero walks, one earned run and three strikeouts.
Breslow was tremendous in relief, giving up just one hit through 1.2 innings while striking out a career-high four:
The Red Sox added an insurance run in the top of the ninth as Maddon emptied his bullpen, and Koji Uehara got revenge for Monday night's loss with a perfect four-out save to put an exclamation mark on the outstanding team pitching performance.
Top Player Grades
Jake Peavy, Red Sox: A-
Peavy may not have earned the victory, but he was just about as good as the Red Sox could have hoped.
He was absolutely dealing early on, as it took him just 54 pitches to get through the first five innings. Although his night may have ended earlier than he probably would have liked after giving up two hits and a run on 20 pitches in the sixth, he did everything necessary to help his club win.
It was a clutch performance in a tough situation.
Jamey Wright, Rays: A
He only pitched one inning, but let's give Jamey Wright, who is in his first postseason in 18 years, a little bit of credit.
You could barely dream up a more difficult situation for the 38-year-old journeyman: Second inning, bases loaded, no outs, elimination game. Moreover, he got crushed for four runs in one inning in Game 1, so there were questions about where his confidence would be at.
Nevertheless, Wright showed unbelievable nerves, striking out Jarrod Saltalamacchia and getting Stephen Drew to line into the inning-ending double play.
Shane Victorino: A
The Flyin' Hawaiian had a pretty tough start to his night, popping up in the first and striking out the third. But boy did he make up for it in a major way.
With his team trailing, he stepped to the plate with runners on first and third and two outs in the seventh inning.
First, he intelligently showed bunt, which might have been the cause of the run-scoring wild pitch by Peralta. Second, he impressively legged out an infield single to plate the game-winning run.
He also had another good night of getting hit by pitches (two of them) and tying an MLB record in the process:
He's no Teddy "Beanbag" Bagwell, but it was a huge game for Victorino.
Bogaerts deserves credit here as well. He pinch hit for Drew in the seventh, sparking Boston's comeback. The rookie walked twice in two plate appearances and scored two runs.
Yunel Escobar, Rays: A
Yunel Escobar had three hits in three at-bats. He was involved in every Rays rally. He was the only player on the team to reach second base. He had the only extra-base hit. He scored the only run.
Getting three hits out of the No. 8 spot is absolutely huge, but unfortunately for the Rays, no one was able to help Escobar on offense.
Wil Myers, James Loney, Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist and Desmond Jennings combined to go 1-for-18 in the loss.
The Rays will dust off their golf clubs or fishing poles, while the Red Sox head home, where they will take on the winner of Thursday's contest between the Tigers and Athletics.
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