Through Ups and Downs, Red Sox' Resiliency Has Them Still Alive in Playoff Hunt The 2010 version of the Red Sox has conjured up images of Muhammad Ali in Zaire, leaning against the ropes, taking shot after damaging shot, each one looking more and more like it might just be the last.

In addition to the injuries that have plagued the Sox, they have also had a tendency to mix in losses at inopportune times and in such agonizing fashion that there was often a sense that they may never recover.

These were punch-in-the-gut setbacks that left some to wonder if Boston had what it took to stay in the fight.

Only three teams in the American League have lost more one-run games. No team in baseball has dropped more extra-inning affairs than the Red Sox' eight. In addition, the club has gone 15-18 in series finales, often sending the Sox to the next stop with their heads hanging low.

Momentum has been tough to come by.

But sticking with the theme of the would-be beaten boxer, Boston has countered these setbacks with several wins that have been equally as galvanizing and timely. Here is a look back on the wild ups and downs through the first four months of the season:

April 19: The Tampa Bay Rays, already in first place by six games over the struggling Sox, finish a four-game sweep on Patriots' Day with an 8-2 win in Fenway Park. Boston was outscored 24-10 and dropped to 4-9 on the young season.

What they were saying
"We're going through a really tough time."
–Red Sox manager Terry Francona

What happened next
Darnell McDonald's memorable debut took place the very next day. McDonald, who was brought up from Pawtucket when both Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury went down with injuries, hit a game-tying two-run homer in the eighth and a walk-off single in the ninth. The 7-6 win began a 4-2 stretch that calmed the waters, until …

May 2: With general manager Theo Epstein on hand to serve notice that changes would be made, the Sox dropped three straight in Baltimore, including two in extra innings. Sunday's finale saw Ty Wigginton hit a game-winning double off Jonathan Papelbon to drop Boston to 11-14.

The Sox had allowed more runs than any team in the American League and were seven games out of first.

What they were saying
"We're going to have to regroup in a hurry and figure it out."

What happened next
Returning home for a crucial homestand, the Sox pounded out 20 hits in a 17-8 rout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim the following night, beginning a four-game sweep that pushed the club above .500 for the first time since it was 1-0. However, Boston would find itself back below that mark in a few weeks when …

May 17: After two losses to end a series in Detroit, the Sox limped into Yankee Stadium and found themselves quickly down 5-0 after one inning. They managed to crawl back into things and took a 9-7 lead in the eighth on back-to-back homers by Kevin Youkilis and Victor Martinez.

It had the makings of an energizing comeback win before Alex Rodriguez tied it with one out in the ninth on a two-run shot off Papelbon, and Marcus Thames won it moments later with a blast of his own. Boston was 8 1/2 games back.

What they were saying
"It's not what you're looking for, but it happens. We'll come back and play tomorrow; there's nothing else you can do."
David Ortiz

What happened next
Heeding those words, the Sox, on a rainy night that saw Josh Beckett leave with an injury that would cost him more than two months, again rallied from five runs down and took the lead for good on a Jeremy Hermida two-run double off Mariano Rivera in the ninth.

Papelbon struggled again before closing the door on an improbable 7-6 victory that kick-started a 30-12 run. Boston shaved eight games off New York's lead during the hot stretch, which became a distant memory once we reached …

July 7: Tampa Bay Rays lefty David Price dominated the Sox to finish a three-game sweep and send Boston to its fourth straight loss overall. The club had lost a game in the standings with each setback along the way, the injuries were mounting and the Sox were now 6-12 against the two teams they were trying to track down in the division.

What they were saying
"They're wounded right now and you really do want to be able to take advantage of that moment."
–Rays manager Joe Maddon on banged-up Boston

What happened next
Backed by a combined seven RBIs by Bill Hall and Mike Cameron, Jon Lester won his 11th game of the first half of the season in a 14-3 rout at Toronto. It began a series which would see the Sox take two of three from the Blue Jays and enter the All-Star break on a positive note that seemed impossible just days before.

It was a positive note that would linger until …

July 18: C.J. Wilson severely outmatched a suddenly sputtering offense to give the Texas Rangers their third win in four games at Fenway Park to start the second half. Lester got the loss but was given little help — one Texas run scored on an Adrian Beltre error and another on a steal of home.

Boston was 6 1/2 games back and about to begin a 10-game West Coast road trip, a swing that usually spelled doom, still without several key players. Vultures were beginning to circle overhead.

What they were saying
"It helps to have those guys in your future sight but you can't really worry about that right now."
–Cameron, on the returns of injured players

What happened next
Daisuke Matsuzaka was solid in leading the Sox to a win in the opener of the trip, a well-played 2-1 triumph. It kicked off the club's first winning West Coast excursion in five years, a 6-4 swing that had plenty of positives, except …

July 25: In the team's second straight loss to lowly Seattle, Hideki Okajima lost a 2-1 lead in a dramatic eighth-inning meltdown that spoiled another quality start by Matsuzaka and dropped the Sox eight games back. Coming off what could be categorized as the single worst loss of the year, Boston had to head to Anaheim for what figured to be the toughest stop on the trip.

What they were saying
"Their pitching is not bad, but we should be able to hit better against them. We're not facing power pitching. We have the experience and the ability to dominate."
–Ortiz, after his team scored a total of five runs in the last three games of the series

What happened next
The first series sweep in Anaheim in 12 years, all behind strong starting pitching and timely hits. The surge allowed Boston to return home with the same deficit it had when it left town.

With two lesser teams (Detroit and Cleveland) on the docket for the upcoming seven-game homestand and the Red Sox' starting pitching at its very best, there is a great chance to build off the sweep of the Angels and carry momentum into the last two months of the season. If by some chance they stumble along the way and suffer a painful defeat, there's little reason to believe the Sox won't be able to get off the mat.

Remember, Ali won that fight.