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Sox Sink Rays 3-1 in Series, Clinch ALCS Berth

ee3265aa-4327-4a97-b391-206185fa4f05-460x276The Tampa Bay Rays could not hold off the Boston Red Sox any longer on Tuesday, as the bearded-ballplayers won Game 4 of the ALDS at Tropicana Field to clinch a berth in the next round of the playoffs.

Boston took the first two games of the series, both played at Fenway Park in Boston, and then flew to St. Petersburg, Fla. for the next two matchups. The Rays extended their season’s life as they took Game 3 on Monday—only to drop the following game to the Red Sox the next day.

The third game of the series featured Clay Buchholz—who missed a good part of the 2013 campaign due to injury—on the hill for Boston. Opposing him was the man who sent the Rays into the ALDS via the AL Wildcard game—Alex Cobb.

The Red Sox tacked on two runs in the first inning, and then scored another from an Cobb wild pitch in the fifth, to make a 3-0 lead for Boston headed to the bottom fifth.

As if provoked, Evan Longoria, the Rays third baseman who has appeared in every postseason game in Tampa Bay history, smacked a three-run shot off Buchholz to knot the game.

Buchholz allowed three runs on seven hits over six innings, while Alex Cobb surrendered three runs and five hits throughout five innings of work.

The game stayed tied until the last frame in the ninth, where José Lobaton collected his first career postseason hit—good for a walk-off home run off closer Koji Uehara—to end the game at a 5-4 score.

Boston was hoping their fortunes would change Tuesday, as they sent Jake Peavy to the mound to oppose Jeremy Hellickson.

The story of the game, however, was reliever Craig Breslow. With two out in the sixth, a runner on second and the Rays leading 1-0, the Red Sox turned to their best left-handed reliever for a big out.

Breslow fanned James Loney to end the inning, and then struck out the side in the seventh. He worked 1.2 innings, and retired five of the six batters he faced, four by strikeout—which is a career high for him. He earned the win, deservedly.

Koji Uehara also had a bounce-back performance from Game 3, as he recorded the last four outs of the game to earn the save.

As Breslow was dealing, the Red Sox took a 2-1 lead in the seventh—and went on to win the game by a score of 3-1—to advance to the ALCS against either the Detroit Tigers or Oakland Athletics. Both Dustin Pedroia and Shane Victorino had RBI singles for Boston. Xander Bogaerts came off the bench and scored two runs.

Game 1 of the ALCS will be played on Saturday at Fenway Park. Stay tuned to The Suffolk Voice for complete previews and predictions for both the ALCS and NLCS.

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