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"I wanted the ball," Price said. "I think everybody down there in the 'pen wanted the ball tonight."
The Rays dropped the "Devil" from their name before the season and came out with a new identity: Gone were the laughable losers who finished last in the AL East in nine of their first 10 seasons, the snowbird specials whose quirky Tropicana Field filled with transplanted Bostonians whenever the Red Sox visited.
After splitting the first two games of the series at home, though, it was Tampa Bay that made itself at home in an opponent's ballpark, with the Rays sending shot after shot sailing over the Green Monster. In all, the Rays outscored the Red Sox 29-13 in the three games at Fenway Park, hitting 10 home runs.
But the young Rays' postseason inexperience showed in Game 5, when a normally reliable bullpen blew a 7-0 lead over the last three innings, allowing Boston to save its season with an 8-7 victory.
The Red Sox were the eighth team to rally from a 3-1 deficit to force Game 7 of an LCS, and they're the only club to do it more than once. The Red Sox also battled back in 1986, 2004 and 2007, and went on to win the World Series the last two times.
With the tarps covering nearly 5,800 seats in the upper deck removed for the second straight night, more than 40,000 fans packed the domed stadium for a rematch of the starting pitchers from Game 3, won by Tampa Bay 9-1 at Fenway Park.
Many fans wore Red Sox gear and were even more noticeable when they stood and cheered as Pedroia circled the bases after lining a pitch into the left-field stands. But there would be little for the Boston faithful to cheer the rest of the night.
No team has repeated as World Series champion since the New York Yankees won three straight from 1998-2000. That mark is safe for another year.
"We played as hard as we could. Just kind of ran out of magic," Pedroia said. "I'm proud of everybody, but it's obviously a tough loss."
Notes: Rays senior adviser Don Zimmer, a former Red Sox manager who has six World Series rings, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. ... Ortiz said after the game that he's not planning to have surgery on his left wrist during the offseason.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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