ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Jose Lobaton hit a home run with two outs in the ninth inning, giving the Tampa Bay Rays a 5-4 win over the Boston Red Sox Monday night in Game 3 of the American League division series at Tropicana Field.

Boston was looking to sweep the best-of-five series. Instead, Game 4 will be played Tuesday night. The Red Sox still lead the series, 2-1.

“We’re still in the driver’s seat,” Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino said.

Lobaton’s homer came off usually reliable closer Koji Uehara.

“Koji has been so consistent, so dominant for us,” Boston Manager John Farrell said. “Obviously, Lobaton is looking for the 0-1 splitter and squared it up well.”

Indeed, Lobaton was expecting Uehara’s famed split-fastball.

“First pitch he threw me a split (for a strike). I said I have to get more back,” Lobaton said. He backed up in the box.

“I hit the ball hard and I said, ‘I think I’ve got it.”‘

It was the second home run for the Rays.

The first was a three-run blast by Evan Longoria that tied the game 3-3 in the fifth inning.

Boston starter Clay Buchholz struck out Longoria on a change-up in the fourth inning. He threw two more in the fifth.

“Got a check swing on the first one,” Buchholz said. “Trying to go in (with the second one). It caught the bottom of the zone. He was sitting on it and he got it out of there.”

Boston had taken a 3-0 lead on some Tampa Bay miscues.

Jacoby Ellsbury led off the game with a single to left. Then starter Alex Cobb hit Victorino with a pitch.

Dustin Pedroia grounded to Longoria at third for a potential double play. Second baseman Ben Zobrist took Longoria’s throw, with Victorino sliding in hard, but threw the relay to first wildly, allowing Ellsbury to score.

In the fifth, Ellsbury doubled. Victorino grounded deep into the hole to shortstop Yunel Escobar, who bobbled it briefly. Ellsbury broke for third and Escobar’s throw appeared to beat him, but Ellsbury was called safe.

It turned out to be a huge call when Cobb’s wild pitch scored Ellsbury. With two outs, David Ortiz singed in Victorino for a 3-0 lead.

Boston threatened in the top of the eighth.

Ortiz led off with a walk. Quintin Berry pinch ran and stole second but was stranded.

Franklin Morales relieved in the eighth. He walked leadoff batter James Loney, who was replaced by pinch runner Sam Fuld.

Desmond Jennings dropped down a bunt between the pitcher’s mound and first base. Morales got the ball, but both Pedroia and Mike Napoli were going for it, too, so no one covered first base.

“Great execution on their part,” Pedroia said. “It was perfect.”

Jarrod Saltalamacchia made a diving catch on a foul ball and then Brandon Workman relieved Morales.

Escobar hit a grounder up the middle and Stephen Drew and Pedroia went for it. Drew got it but had no play after bumping into Pedroia.

“I just didn’t want to get in a situation where Stephen couldn’t get there and the ball goes through,” Pedroia said. “A couple of breaks that didn’t go our way.”

With the bases loaded, pinch-hitter Delmon Young grounded to first. Napoli dived and got the ball. He looked to throw home, but then touched first base for the second out as Fuld scored for a 4-3 lead.

Will Middlebrooks began the top of the ninth with a walk from closer Fernando Rodney and was replaced by pinch runner Xander Bogaerts.

Ellsbury blooped a single to left and Victorino bunted both runners over.

Pedroia grounded out to short, scoring Bogaerts to tie the game at 4.

Uehara entered in the bottom of the ninth. He got two quick outs before Lobaton homered.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: ClearTheBases


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