The Tampa Bay Rays have developed a penchant for thriving in elimination games.
They'll need to come through one more time to give themselves a chance at their second AL championship series appearance.
The Rays look to build on a dramatic win when they host the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night in Game 4 of their AL division series.
Facing elimination for the fourth time in a span of nine days, Jose Lobaton's walkoff solo homer with two outs in the ninth off Koji Uehara led Tampa Bay to a 5-4 victory on Monday, trimming Boston's series edge to 2-1.
"It's unbelievable. It's something you can't explain,' said Lobaton, who came off the bench to catch in the top of the inning before hitting just his 10th home run in his 500th career at-bat including both regular-season and playoff games.
Uehara hadn't surrendered a homer since June 30.
The Rays produced the rest of their runs on a three-run shot in the fifth by Evan Longoria - the ninth of his postseason career - and an RBI groundout by Delmon Young in the eighth.
"We never give up," Lobaton said. "We're going to keep fighting."
Last week, Tampa Bay won its regular-season finale to force a tiebreaker, which it won against Texas to reach the postseason. The Rays then knocked off Cleveland in the AL wild-card game.
Monday will have to be the first of three straight victories, however, for Tampa Bay to become just the fifth AL team in the last 23 to win a division series after falling into a 2-0 hole.
"I'm sure there's an attitude they have nothing to lose and just let it all hang out," Boston manager John Farrell said. "That's what we've been accustomed to for years against the Rays. As I mentioned before the series started, we have tremendous respect for them and we know it will be a very similar game tomorrow night."
The Rays will likely need better pitching from Jeremy Hellickson (12-10, 5.17) than what he showed to end the year. He went 1-7 with a 7.53 ERA over his final 10 starts.
"I haven't really given them a good reason to send me back out there these last few months," he told the team's official website. "It's really nice that they still have confidence in me to go out there."
Hellickson went 1-0 with a 3.44 ERA in three matchups with Boston this season. The right-hander allowed three runs - all homers - in four innings during his only career postseason start, a loss to Texas in Game 4 of the 2011 ALDS as the Rays were eliminated from the playoffs.
Jake Peavy (12-5, 4.17) will get the ball for the Red Sox for his first playoff start in seven years. He'll try to shake off some postseason demons as he lost both his previous two postseason outings while posting a 12.10 ERA for San Diego.
Peavy also endured a somewhat rough stretch to end the year, giving up three or more runs in each of his four September outings. The right-hander also issued 13 walks in those games after recording eight bases_on_balls in his previous 10 starts.
He's gone 3-1 in six starts versus Tampa Bay with a 4.91 ERA. He gave up homers to Longoria, Matt Joyce and Desmond Jennings while posting a 1-0 record in two starts against the Rays this year.
James Loney, who was 3 for 3 Monday to improve to 6 for 12 in this year's playoffs, is 10 for 31 with two homers and five doubles against Peavy.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia is 8 for 25 versus Hellickson with three homers and three doubles, while David Ortiz is 9 for 24 with three home runs and seven walks.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said rookie outfielder Wil Myers is expected to be OK for Tuesday's game after leaving prior to the eighth inning Monday due to cramps.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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