Lobaton walk-off HR keeps Rays alive
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Jose Lobaton hit a two-out, walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth against Koji Uehara, and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Boston Red Sox 5-4 at Tropicana Field on Monday to win Game 3 and remain alive in the American League Division Series.
The Rays, who won consecutive elimination games to reach the postseason, then won the AL wild-card game, trail the series 2-1 with Game 4 slated for Tuesday at Tropicana Field.
Lobaton’s first career postseason walk-off hit landed in the petting tank of rays beyond the right field fence. The catcher was in the game as part of a double switch when manager Joe Maddon earlier invalidated the designated hitter with a defensive move.
Tampa Bay overcame a 3-0 deficit Monday on an Evan Longoria three-run homer, and they scored a go-ahead run in the eighth when Boston’s defense imploded.
The Rays led 4-3 going into the top of the ninth, but Boston tied the game off closer Fernando Rodney on an RBI groundout by Dustin Pedroia. The Red Sox put the first two runners on and advanced them to second and third with one out before Pedroia, who was 0-for-5 lifetime against Rodney, grounded to shortstop.
James Loney began the Rays’ eighth-inning rally with a leadoff walk. Pinch runner Sam Fuld moved to second when Desmond Jennings beat out a bunt as Boston first baseman Mike Napoli couldn’t cover the bag in time to take a throw from reliever Franklin Morales.
Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia made a sliding catch when Matt Joyce popped up a bunt attempt. Boston second baseman Pedroia slid headlong into shortstop Stephen Drew as Drew was trying to field what appeared to be a potential double-play grounder, loading the bases. Pinch hitter Delmon Young then fought off new reliever Brandon Workman’s first pitch, hitting it to first base, but Napoli could not make a play on Fuld, who scored the lead run.
Rays starter Alex Cobb allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits with five strikeouts in five innings. Red Sox counterpart Clay Buchholz couldn’t hold a 3-0 lead, allowing three runs on seven hits in six innings.
In a game of missed opportunities in the early innings for both teams, the Red Sox took what felt like a huge 3-0 lead with a two-run outburst in the fifth off Cobb.
Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a double and took third when it was ruled he beat a throw from shortstop Yunel Escobar on a Shane Victorino grounder deep into the hole. Rays third baseman Longoria tagged Ellsbury on the leg. Ellsbury scored on a wild pitch, and Victorino came across for a 3-0 lead on a one-out single by David Ortiz.
The lead didn’t last an inning. Longoria tied the game with two outs in the bottom of the fifth, walloping an 0-1 pitch from starter Buchholz just over the wall down the left field line for a three-run homer. Escobar, who led off with a single, and David DeJesus, on with a double, scored on the Longoria’s first homer of this postseason and franchise-best ninth in the playoffs.
Boston took a 1-0 lead in the first inning with an unearned run off Cobb. Ellsbury led off with a single and took second when Victorino was hit by a pitch. Ellsbury advanced to third on a potential double-play grounder by Pedroia and scored on the play when second baseman Ben Zobrist threw wildly to first after forcing out Victorino.
The Red Sox squandered a prime chance in the fourth inning, failing to score after Ortiz led off with a walk and took second on a Mike Napoli walk. Ortiz took third on a deep flyout by Daniel Nava, but Cobb struck out Saltalamacchia for the second straight time and retired Drew on a grounder to end the inning. Drew nearly made something of the inning, but his liner down the right field line curled foul.
Buchholz battled out of his own trouble in a 34-pitch fourth, striking out Joyce with the bases loaded to end the inning.
Ellsbury and Loney each had three hits.
Notes: Both Cobb (26) and Longoria (28) had birthdays on Monday. It was the 13th time in major league history a pitcher made a postseason start on his birthday. Just three of the previous starters earned a win. Longoria became the second player to homer in the postseason on his birthday. ... The Rays snapped a four-game home postseason losing streak. Their last playoff win at Tropicana Field was in Game 2 of the 2008 World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies. On the flip side, the Red Sox lost their fourth consecutive postseason road game, dating to the 2008 AL Championship Series against the Rays. ... Rays LHP David Price issued a “deep apology” for calling two TBS analysts nerds in a Twitter rant Saturday after allowing seven runs in a 7-4 loss in Game 2 at Boston.