Mike Carp Gives Red Sox More Late-Game Heroics in Story That Never Gets Old for Boston

Mike Carp, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Mike Napoli“It continues.”

Those two words from John Farrell describe it best. The Red Sox’ 7-3, 10-inning win over the Rays on Wednesday represented just another day at the office for a team that turned dramatic wins into the norm long ago.

But as common as it’s been for the Red Sox to produce late-game drama, the story never gets old. Maybe it’s because the action never seems to unfold in the same manner. Maybe it’s because there have been so many different contributors. Or maybe it’s because we’re witnessing something that seemed impossible during spring training. Whatever the case, the narrative of the 2013 Red Sox is unique, captivating and getting more special with each victory.

“That’s the way it’s been all year,” Mike Carp said of the Red Sox’ penchant for having fun on the diamond. “We knew we had a good club and if we do our job, we should be right on top at the end of the year. It’s getting close to the wire now, and we’re sitting on a nice comfortable lead, so we’ve got to keep playing hard and remain focused down the stretch.”

Carp was the hero Wednesday. He pinch hit for Jonny Gomes with the bases loaded in the 10th inning and connected on a grand slam to help propel Boston to another wild victory. It was another big hit off the bench for Carp, who continues to deliver whenever his number is called.

“He reminds me of myself when I first started — didn’t get to play too much, but with a good swing,” David Ortiz said. “He works hard, though. He works hard to stay compact and to come in and do what he did. You only see that in a movie.”

The Red Sox actually carried a 3-1 lead into the seventh inning Wednesday, but the Rays struck for two runs off Brandon Workman. Evan Longoria cut Tampa’s deficit in half with an RBI double in the seventh, and James Loney tied the score with a solo homer in the eighth.

Koji Uehara ran his scoreless streak to 29 1/3 innings with another perfect outing in the ninth, and Dustin Pedroia started Boston’s 10th-inning rally with a leadoff walk against Joel Peralta. Pedroia moved up to second base when Shane Victorino dropped down a sacrifice bunt, and the Rays opted to intentionally walk Ortiz with first base open before turning to Roberto Hernandez with runners at first and second and one out.

Hernandez’s outing proved disastrous. He walked Mike Napoli on four pitches before surrendering a first-pitch grand slam to Carp, whose ability to stay prepared remains a huge asset for the Red Sox.

“We try to do a good job all game long of knowing situations and knowing matchups,” Carp said. “We saw they had a lefty in there. We knew Hernandez would be a good matchup for me. I was just trying to get the ball in the air. He gave me a good pitch to hit, and I hit it a lot farther than I thought I was going to hit it.”

Junichi Tazawa recorded the final three outs in the bottom of the 10th, and Boston has now won seven of its last eight games. The Red Sox hold a commanding 9 1/2-game lead over the Rays in the AL East, and their magic number to win the division is down to eight. That number should continue to decrease as long as the Red Sox keep putting themselves into favorable offensive situations late in games.

“Opportunities present themselves, and they continue to execute,” Farrell said. “[We] build an inning against a very good pitcher in Peralta. We feel like we got into a favorable situation. Not to take anything away from Hernandez, but Peralta’s been very tough on us. And to have a bases-loaded situation after Nap’s walk, things certainly started to swing in our favor — as long as we put the ball in the air and stay away from the ground-ball double play. But still, it’s just the never-quit attitude that this team has.”

The Red Sox’ never-quit attitude has been evident all along, and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. The story might get old for those opponents victimized by the Red Sox’ heroics, but it only gets more and more fascinating for Boston.

Have a question for Ricky Doyle? Send it to him via Twitter at @TheRickyDoyle or send it here.

Click here to see Mike Carp’s grand slam >>

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