After finishing in last place in the American League East in 2012, the Boston Red Sox are back in the AL Championship Series after a tight Game Four victory on Tuesday over the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field, 3-1.
After allowing a run in the bottom of the sixth inning, Boston posted two runs in the top of the seventh inning when Xander Bogaerts scored off a wild pitch by reliever Joel Peralta, which was followed by Shane Victorino's infield single that drove in Jacoby Ellsbury. Boston added a third run in the top of the ninth when a sacrifice fly from Dustin Pedroia scored Bogaerts.
The win returns the Red Sox to the ALCS for the first time since 2008. Boston won 97 games in the regular season after winning just 69 in 2012.
"It's great, but we've still got one more to get where we want to be," Victorino said, according to the Associated Press. "We're going to get a few days off to rest and see what happens in the other division series, and we'll go from there."
Boston received a solid outing from starter Jake Peavy. The veteran right-hander allowed just one run in 5 2/3 innings, and didn't concede a walk. Reliever Craig Breslow got the win, as the Red Sox bullpen allowed just one hit over the course of 3 1/3 innings. Closer Koji Uehara retired all four of the batters he faced to earn the save.
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"It feels great," outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury said. "We played a great team over there. It was a hard-fought game. It's more mentally tiring than anything. But it's a fun group of guys."
"You could see their grit,'' Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I think they've really promoted the character within that group, and they're just gamers."
The Rays season ends after an impressive run to the postseason. Tampa defeated the Cleveland Indians in the wild card game, and had previously won nine of their last 11 games.