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 take 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 and had ace David Price warming up for a possible 10th inning.
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 the Red Sox.
The highest-scoring team in the majors this season, Boston scratched out three runs on six singles in a game that featured only one extra-base hit.
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.