ST. PETERSBURG -- Danny Farquhar was one strike away from getting out of a bases-loaded jam. Dustin Pedroia was one walk, bloop, or blast away from bringing in a run to tie it, and maybe getting the Red Sox the lead.
On a 2-2 count, he crushed one over the wall -- a blast that turned a one-run deficit into a three-run lead and clinched a postseason berth for the Red Sox. It was the blow Boston would need in a 6-4 win over Tampa Bay.
"Everybody is obviously grinding," Pedroia said. "We got guys on base, you obviously want to get them in. One of those situations where you just try to have a good at-bat. Feels good."
Boston's victory -- its 10th in a row -- was its 91st this season and secures at least a spot in the American League Wild Card Game on Tuesday, Oct. 4. The Blue Jays also won Saturday, defeating the Yankees, 3-0, which means the Red Sox's magic number to clinch the AL East is down to three. Any combination of Boston wins or Toronto losses that adds up to that number will give the Red Sox their first division title since 2013, when they went on to win the World Series.
With the win, the Red Sox also kept pace with the Rangers, who also won on Saturday. Boston is one game behind Texas for the best record in the American League, which would give home-field advantage through the playoffs.
Rick Porcello struck out nine and allowed three runs over 6 1/3 innings en route to picking up his 22nd win. Matt Andriese allowed just two runs over six innings, in his best start since re-entering the Rays rotation on Aug. 2. Brad Miller had a two-run double, and Logan Forsythe pulled the Rays within two in the ninth with a solo homer.
But the game was defined on one swing from Pedroia, and it sent the Red Sox to the playoffs.
"Just a complete and explosive injection to the club in the dugout when that ball went out of the ballpark," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "He's so gritty, he's so tough, never going to give an at-bat away, and was able to deliver the big blow tonight."
"I thought I threw some good pitches," Farquhar said. "He battled. You could see why he's as good as he is. He fought off some pitches and got his pitch and crushed it."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Holding the lead: The Rays were threatening a tie the game at 1 in the second inning after Corey Dickerson singled to right and Nick Franklin doubled to left with one out. Mikie Mahtook lined a sharp one-hopper to second base, but Pedroia threw home to make a nice out and prevent a run. Then third baseman Brock Holt robbed Alexei Ramirez on a tough hop and threw to first to get the last out.
"I was back. I saw him freeze on it," Pedroia said of his play. "Obviously it was a risky play, but if you make it, it changes the momentum of the inning. It worked out for us."
Rick does the trick: Porcello has gone more than six innings in each of his starts since June 28. Over that stretch, and after allowing three third-inning runs over 6 1/3 innings Saturday, he is 14-2 with a 2.49 ERA in his 16 starts. He escaped a jam in the second inning and a first-and-third, one-out pickle in the sixth and departed with the Rays in front before Pedroia's slam. He threw 116 pitches.
"I feel like I had good stuff. I definitely made a lot of mistakes, especially early on in the game and the inning when they scored those runs," Porcello said. "I had to settle back down and start executing my pitches better, but definitely had a better four-seam fastball, and it had some more life on it today than in some previous starts."
Dickerson keeps raking: Dickerson has struggled at home this season, entering Saturday night's game with a .207 batting average with seven home runs and 21 RBIs at Tropicana Field as compared to .280 with 16 home runs and 44 RBIs on the road. He came through with singles in his first two at-bats, one of which drove home a run in the third to put the Rays up 3-2. Approaching the end of the season, Dickerson is looking like the hitter the Rays thought they were getting when the traded Jake McGee to the Rockies to acquire him.
Andriese solid: Andriese has had to be flexible this season. He began the season at Triple-A Durham so he could remain stretched out as a starter and eventually joined the rotation before getting relegated to the bullpen once Blake Snell arrived. After Matt Moore got traded, Andriese again went into the rotation, further demonstrating his flexibility. He gave the Rays six solid innings Saturday night, allowing two runs on four hits. In his last three starts, he has allowed just five runs in 16 1/3 innings, good for two wins and Saturday night's no-decision.
"Definitely happy about a quality start," Andriese said. "The total outcome, not so much. But I'm happy about how I threw the ball today."
"It is a weird feeling, being at home, and having Papi up there. You're happy for the guy, obviously, and it's fun facing him, too, because of how much is riding on the line and it's the last time you'll probably face him, too. It's a weird feeling, but I'm happy he didn't get me today." -- Andriese, on the crowd of 25,641 cheering for the Red Sox and particularly David Ortiz
"It's obviously big. It's the position we wanted to be in coming into this last week in September. We definitely want the division, so we're going for it." -- Porcello, on clinching at least a Wild Card berth
KIERMAIER'S CANNON Kevin Kiermaier may not have made an out when he threw home on Holt's RBI double in the left-center field gap in the second inning. But his impressive throw -- which hit catcher Curt Casali on the fly -- traveled a projected 344 feet, per Statcast™ and traveled 100.4 mph, Kiermaier's hardest throw of the season. It was also the longest throw by any fielder in 2016.
WHAT'S NEXT Red Sox:Eduardo Rodriguez (3-7, 4.84 ERA) hasn't been the same pitcher since nearly throwing a no-hitter in Oakland on Sept. 4. In the three starts since, he's allowed eight earned runs in 14 2/3 innings. He'll hope to get back on track against the Rays at Tropicana Field at 1:10 p.m. on Sunday, and rebound from his worst start of the season when he allowed nine runs there on June 27.
Rays: Jake Odorizzi (9-6, 3.73) makes his 32nd start and hopes to continue the roll he's been on in the second half. Since the All-Star break he is 6-1 with a 2.68 ERA in 13 starts. In those starts, he has yielded one run or fewer six times. The right-hander has the unlucky distinction of having a Major League-leading 16 no-decisions.