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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — When the champagne stopped flowing in the visitor's clubhouse, the Boston Red Sox took the celebration back out to the stands at Tropicana Field so that family and friends could share some of the fun.
A year after finishing in last place, the AL East champion Red Sox won 97 games to match St. Louis for the best record in baseball. Now, they're moving on to the AL championship series for the first time in five years.
"I think at this point it really doesn't do any good to kind of look at where we were," reliever Craig Breslow said after coming out of the bullpen to give the team a huge boost in a 3-1 victory that ended Tampa Bay's season.
"We had guys come to spring training, everybody bought in," Breslow added, explaining Boston's quick turnaround after going 69-93 last year. "There's accountability and 25 guys who prioritize winning baseball games beyond any kind of individual achievement or accolade."
The resilient Rays won four win-or-go-home games over the previous nine, but couldn't win another to send the best-of-five matchup back to Fenway Park for a decisive Game 5.
Shane Victorino's infield single snapped a seventh-inning tie and Dustin Pedroia's ninth-inning sacrifice fly provided insurance for the Red Sox.
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