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Red Sox finish Rays to reach ALCS

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POSTED October 8, 2013 11:53 p.m.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Shane Victorino’s infield single snapped a seventh-inning tie and journeyman Craig Breslow gave Boston a huge boost out of the bullpen, sending the Red Sox into the AL championship series with a 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night.

Koji Uehara got the final four outs — one night after giving up a game-winning homer — and the Red Sox rebounded to win the best-of-five playoff 3-1.

Back in the ALCS for the first time in five years, they’ll open at home Saturday against the Athletics or Tigers. Oakland hosts Detroit in a decisive Game 5 on Thursday.

Both managers mixed and matched all night in a tense game that felt more like a chess match. Desperately trying to avoid elimination, Rays skipper Joe Maddon used nine pitchers.

Breslow relieved Boston starter Jake Peavy in the sixth and struck out his first four batters — all of them in the middle of Tampa Bay’s lineup.

The 33-year-old lefty from Yale has pitched for six teams in eight big league seasons, including two stints with Boston.

Xander Bogaerts scored the tying run on Joel Peralta’s wild pitch in the seventh and Victorino followed with an RBI infield single. Dustin Pedroia drove in Bogaerts with a sacrifice fly in the ninth to make it 3-1, and Uehara struck out Evan Longoria to end it.

The resilient Rays won four win-or-go-home games over the previous nine days and led 1-0 this time before Boston rallied.

David DeJesus snapped a scoreless tie with an RBI single in the sixth and Boston squandered several opportunities before finally breaking through in the seventh.

Bogaerts, pinch-hitting, drew a one-out walk and raced to third on Jacoby Ellsbury’s two-out single off Jake McGee. The Rays brought on their sixth pitcher, Peralta, and the game shifted suddenly on his first pitch, which skipped in the dirt past catcher Jose Lobaton — allowing the tying run to score.

Ellsbury was stealing second on the pitch and continued to third when the ball rolled toward the backstop. Victorino beat out a slow chopper to shortstop, putting the Red Sox ahead 2-1.

Breslow pitched 1 2-3 scoreless innings for the win. Uehara earned a save, bouncing back from Lobaton’s ninth-inning homer in Game 3.

Tampa Bay won three win-or-go-home games just to get into the division series last week. Coming from behind in another elimination game Monday gave them hope of taking the series back to Fenway Park, where the Rays were outscored 19-6 in the first two games.

The trip to the ALCS will be Boston’s first since 2008, when the Red Sox lost in seven games to Tampa Bay.



Dodgers get 3-day break after ousting Braves

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Dodgers earned themselves a three-day break after ousting Atlanta to win the National League division series, and they can use the time off to sort out some issues.

The team took Tuesday off to rest after closing out the Braves in four games with a dramatic 4-3 victory on Monday night. As the first club to advance from the division series, the Dodgers get the most time to reset their rotation, make bullpen decisions and heal nagging injuries to Hanley Ramirez and Andre Ethier.

They’ll be awaiting their opponent in the NL championship series, the winner of Wednesday night’s decisive Game 5 between Pittsburgh and St. Louis. Los Angeles would open at home against Pittsburgh or start at St. Louis.

The Dodgers were 4-2 against the Pirates this season and 4-3 against the Cardinals.

“All of my teammates are ready for whatever comes our way,” rookie Yasiel Puig said through a translator. “We’re very prepared for this.”

Los Angeles is four wins from its first World Series appearance since 1988, when the Dodgers won their sixth title and fifth since leaving Brooklyn after the 1957 season.

“In spring training, our goal wasn’t to get to the next round,” center fielder Skip Schumaker said. “It was to win the World Series, so it’s a nice first step in the right direction.”

Los Angeles will open with Zack Greinke, who will be pitching on six days’ rest following a 4-3 loss to Atlanta in Game 2. Clayton Kershaw, who started on three days’ rest Monday for the first time in his major league career, will get regular rest before starting Game 2 against the Pirates or Cardinals.



Game 5 starters both coming off stingy efforts

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Heading into Game 5 of their NL division series against Pittsburgh, the Cardinals can take comfort in this: They’re 7-1 the last three years when facing postseason elimination.

Manager Mike Matheny said poise comes from a mind-set of sticking to routine that is established during spring training.

“We saw it in Pittsburgh, and I anticipate seeing it tomorrow,” Matheny said Tuesday after most players attended an optional workout. “They show up like it’s another — it’s another great day.”

Starter Adam Wainwright was loose and playful on the podium, joking that he got knocked out early on purpose in last year’s division series finale at Washington to “get the mojo flowing.” He tore a page from the Tony La Russa quote book, declining to discuss possible wrinkles for Game 5, turning to Matheny and asking, “Is that a scouting report? That’s a scouting report.”

Though this is the Pittsburgh Pirates’ first playoff appearance since 1992, they’ve looked seasoned, too.

“This is obviously an exciting time, a high-pressure situation, and you know, this is what you prepare for all year,” rookie starter Gerrit Cole said. “Yeah, it’s extremely exciting, and I can’t wait.”

The Pirates will be facing an opponent they all know too well. It’ll be the 24th meeting of the season, with strong stretches on both sides and the Pirates holding a 12-11 edge.

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