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ALDS Game 3: Jose Lobaton's walkoff home run in 9th lifts Tampa Bay Rays over Boston Red Sox

11:55 AM, Oct 8, 2013   |    comments
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Tampa Bay Rays catcher Jose Lobaton (59) reacts after he hit a walk off home run during the ninth inning against the Boston Red Sox of game three of the American League divisional series at Tropicana Field. The Rays won 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

 


 


*Tickets are still available for Rays vs. Boston at the Trop - and the first pitch will be thrown at 8:37 p.m.*

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (USA TODAY) - When it gets to this point for the Tampa Bay Rays, it's Evan Longoria.

But it was Jose Lobaton who provided the decisive blow Monday night - a one-out, walkoff home run to lift the Tampa Bay Rays to a 5-4 final in Game 3 of the American League Division Series.

Yes, the Rays scored a bizarre eighth-inning run without getting a ball out of the infield and extend the series at least to tonight's Game 4, but it was Longoria who revived a sellout crowd at Tropicana Field, rejuvenated the struggling and often bumbling Rays, saved the season.

BOX SCORE: Rays 5, Red Sox 4

PRICE: Apologizes for Twitter rant

It's not the first time Longoria has saved a season. His final-swing-of-the-season home run in 2011 put the Rays into the playoffs.

He's synonymous with the Rays' rise to prominence and, of course, as a rookie hit home runs in his first two at-bats of the franchise's first-ever post-season game in 2008.

And before we get too far into this, it's also worth noting it was his 28th birthday. Of course it was.

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Even more important than all that is that the Rays remain alive to repeat last week's feat of surviving three win-or-go-home games. They'll need to knock off the Red Sox again Tuesday in St. Petersburg - Jake Peavy starts for the Red Sox and Jeremy Hellickson for the Rays - and then go back to Boston for a fifth game on Thursday.

Delmon Young, who's carving his own reputation for playoff heroics, gets credit for the game-winning RBI in an inning when the Red Sox looked anything but efficient for the first time in the series.

Reliever Franlkin Morales walked James Loney to start the inning but the key moment was Desmond Jennings' drag bunt along the first-base line. Morales and first baseman Mike Napoli both broke for the ball and when Morales fielded it, neither was in position to beat the fleet Jennings to the base.

After Matt Joyce popped out attempting to sacrifice, Brandon Workman replace Morales and gave up an infield single to Yunel Escobar. That bouncer over the mound was a possible inning-ending double play, but shortstop Stephen Drew could only slide in front of the ball and keep it from going into center field.

Then Young hit the grounder that Napoli snagged as he moved toward first base. He looked toward home and correctly realized he had no chance to get pinch-runner Sam Fuld at home and with a disgusted shrug opted for the out at first.

Longoria's homer completely reversed a game that looked for all the world like Red Sox were about to methodically dispose of the Rays in a three-game sweep.

Longoria's two-out drive just over the left field wall came after Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz nearly pitched out of a second-and-third, one-out jam.

Buchholz retired Ben Zobrist on a popup and the Red Sox chose not to walk Longoria with first base open and Wil Myers - hitless in the series - on deck.

The Red Sox, bidding to be the only team to sweep a Division Series this year, built their lead much like they had won the first two games -- with a mix of their own efficiency and Rays sloppiness.

Boston scored an unearned run in the first inning and one of its two runs in the fifth inning came on a wild pitch.

Jacoby Ellsbury and his speed continued to be catalyst for the Red Sox. The center fielder led off the first inning with a single and eventually scored when Rays second baseman threw wildly to first while trying to complete a double play.

Ellsbury lined a ball off first base to start the fifth and only his speed got him to second base as the ball caromed toward the seats behind first base. He narrowly beat a throw to third on Shane Victorino's infield single and scored on a wild pitch by Rays starter Alex Cobb.

David Ortiz's two-out single drove in the other run.

Ortiz also came through in a situation where an intentional walk was as least worth considering. Shane Victorino was on third with two outs and Napoli on deck.

Tickets are still available for Game 4, tonight at the Trop. You can buy tickets on raysbaseball.com.  The game is scheduled to begin at 8:30 p.m.

Paul White, USA TODAY Sports

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