There appeared to be no end in sight with two outs in the top of the 14th and Mike Timlin pitching for Boston. Then Akinori Iwamura and Rocco Baldelli cobbled together singles to put runners at first and second for Carlos Pena.
Pena took ball one before hitting Timlin's next pitch over the Green Monster in left field for his 28th home run of the season to give the Rays a 4-1 lead en route to a 4-2 win over the Red Sox on Wednesday night at Fenway Park in front of a crowd of 38,114.
"Obviously [Timlin is] a veteran pitcher," said Pena, who called the home run the biggest home run of his career. "... He's had an incredible career. He knows what he's doing out there. I was just trying to make it as simple as possible. You don't want to think too much with a guy like him.
"I was just trying to see the ball and I got a pitch I thought I could handle. Put a good swing on it, got the barrel on the ball. I was actually surprised the ball went out. I was shocked. I was hoping the ball was going to hit the wall. I saw [Red Sox left fielder Jason] Bay's reaction out in left field and I was like 'Oh man, this is good.' ... And when it went out I was excited, I was very excited."
By winning, the Rays earned their first series win in Boston since 1999 while increasing their lead in the American League East to 2 1/2 games over the second-place Red Sox. Tampa Bay has won five of its past six games against Boston.
But the Red Sox did not go quietly in the bottom half of the inning as Troy Percival high-wire act once again made for a suspenseful outcome.
A night after Percival earned his 28th save during an appearance packed with plenty of drama, the Rays closer entered the game in the bottom of the 14th to try and protect a 4-1 Rays lead and he clearly did not have it. Jacoby Ellsbury doubled to lead off the inning before Percival walked Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz to load the bases. Percival then had to leave the game when his back stiffened up. Jason Hammel was brought on to try and escape the jam.
"Honestly, me and [Juan] Salas were up [in the bullpen] trying to get some work in," Hammel said. "And we figured Percy was going to close the door. He ran into a little trouble and I got in there. I just wanted to attack the hitters; that's been my whole mind-set."
Hammel faced Kevin Youkilis first and the Red Sox's cleanup hitter managed a sacrifice fly to right field that drove home Ellsbury, giving Youkilis his 100th RBI of the season and cutting the lead to 4-2.
"He hit it pretty well -- I was just attacking him with a fastball and he got it," said Hammel, who called his outing the top moment of his baseball career. "My mindset in that situation is to just get outs. I was happy he caught it."
Hammel then struck out Jason Bay for the second out before Alex Cora flew out to center field to end the game.
"If that's what September baseball is all about, it's a lot of fun," Hammel said. "... I can't even talk right now. I'm still coming down from cloud nine."
The Rays scored first when Cliff Floyd singled off Josh Beckett to lead off the second and scored when the next hitter, Willy Aybar tripled to right field.
The Red Sox answered in the third when Pedroia doubled home Jed Lowrie to tie the game at 1.
Plenty of goose eggs followed on the scoreboard.
Andy Sonnanstine started for the Rays and pitched well allowing no earned runs on four hits while striking out seven in seven innings worked, but he received a no-decision.
"It's hard to top [Tuesday night's 5-4 win], but we may have," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "To go that many innings, I've always talked about winning an extra-inning game on the road, it's very significant also."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less