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For the Red Sox, four pitchers are better than nine

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  October 9, 2013 02:08 AM

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Jim Davis/Globe Staff

ST. PETERSBURGH, Fla. — Rays manager Joe Maddon used nine pitchers in Game 4 of the Division Series, none for more than two innings. As the Rays batted in the ninth inning early this morning, he had David Price warming up just in case.

But all of Maddon's moves could not trump the Red Sox, who advanced to the American League Championship Series with a 3-1 victory.

Jake Peavy, Craig Breslow, Junchi Tazawa and Koji Uehara allowed one run on six hits. They struck out 10 without a walk. Once the Sox took a 2-1 lead in the seventh inning, the Rays put one runner on base. Seven of the final 11 Tampa Bay batters struck out.

After the Red Sox took a 2-1 lead in the seventh inning, Breslow handed it off to Tazawa and Uehara to secure. A day after allowing a walk-off homer. Uehera struck out Evan Longoria to end the series.

“I wasn’t down on myself at all,” Uehara said. “Whatever the results were, I had the confidence for this game.”

It was only the second time this season that Breslow pitched over parts of three innings in a game. He came in to face James Loney in the sixth and left the game in the eighth.

“Not something I’ve done. In these situations, you’re feeding off adrenalin and off momentum. Once I got in there and got ahead of Loney, things slowed down a little bit," Breslow said.

Breslow pitched in three of the four games in the series, going 3.2 scoreless innings. Righthanded hitters were 1 for 9 against him.

“He's been, I don't want to say an unsung hero, but he's flown under the radar most of the year. Next to Koji, he's a very dependable reliever,” Sox manager John Farrell said.

“When he comes out and gets the strikeout of Loney and he goes through the next inning with the three strikeouts, a huge performance on his part to bridge to both Junichi and Koji as we finish that out.”

As Breslow spoke to the media in a joyous clubhouse, starters Jon Lester and John Lackey poured champagne and beer on him.

“This guy, what a stud,” Lackey said. “Unbelievable.”

Also:

• Farrell spoke at length before the game about why he didn't pinch hit Xander Bogaerts for Stephen Drew against lefty Jake McGee in the eighth inning on Monday. Then in the seventh inning on Tuesday, he did exactly that.

It showed that Farrell is flexible.

“I reserve the right to change my mind. I felt like at that moment, as tough as lefthanders have been on Stephen, we had to try something different," he said.

Bogaerts drew a walk and scored the tying run on a wild pitch. The Sox later took the lead in the inning.

“I tried to stay calm and say with my approach. Walks are fine,” Bogaerts said. “I thought there was a possibility that I would hit. It worked out well.”

• Jake Peavy allowed one run over 5.2 innings but was pulled after only 74 pitches. He was angry, but knew it made sense to have Breslow come in to face Loney in the sixth inning.

“I understood the situation, as much as I wanted to stay in that game,” Peavy said. “This isn’t about me. I’m glad I pitched the way I did, but the biggest thing was for this team to win the game.”

• Jacoby Ellsbury was 9 for 18 in the series with seven runs scored, two RBIs and four stolen bases. In 26 career postseason games, Ellsbury has 27 hits, 19 runs and nine steals.

• Shane Victorino was hit by a pitch four times in the series, twice in the final game. It was a Division Series record.

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