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Rally earns Red Sox an AL playoff spot

September 23, 2007|From the Associated Press

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- No speeches. A toast. And then it was back to work for the Boston Red Sox.

The Red Sox became the first team in the majors to clinch a playoff spot, rallying on ninth-inning home runs by Jason Varitek and Julio Lugo to beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, 8-6, Saturday.

The victory assured the Red Sox of at least the American League wild-card spot. They held their 2 1/2 -game lead in the AL East over the New York Yankees.

"We are right where we want to be right now, making the playoffs," Lugo said. "I felt like [Boston designated hitter] David Ortiz going around the bases. It's nice to be able to do something to win and make sure we made the playoffs."

Boston trailed, 6-5, when Varitek led off the ninth inning with an opposite-field homer to left field against closer Al Reyes (3-3).

Eric Hinske then doubled and scored one out later when Lugo homered against his former team. It was Reyes' fourth blown save in 28 tries.

Eric Gagne (4-2) pitched a scoreless eighth inning and Jonathan Papelbon worked the ninth for his 36th save in 39 opportunities.

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