ARLINGTON -- With their season on the line, the Rays turned to a rookie with just 35 career big league starts in a pivotal Game 4 on Sunday at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
But Wade Davis didn't disappoint, as he helped keep the Rays' season alive with a gritty performance against a tough Rangers lineup in a 5-2 win to force a decisive fifth game on Tuesday back at Tropicana Field.
Davis wasn't perfect -- he allowed two runs on seven hits and three walks over five-plus innings -- but the right-hander kept his club in the game and didn't wilt under the Texas-sized pressure.
Davis often ran into trouble, as he allowed a baserunner in all six innings he appeared in, but he was able to mitigate the damage with some big pitches against some of the Rangers' best hitters.
"It was a struggle sometimes," Davis admitted. "It was an uphill battle with that team. They have got a pretty dangerous lineup, and they don't give you a lot of time to get comfortable."
Davis certainly didn't have much time to get comfortable in the first inning, when he gave up a leadoff single to Elvis Andrus and walked Josh Hamilton with one out but was able to end the inning by inducing Vladimir Guerrero into a double play to quall the potential early rally.
"He did really well getting Vlad to ground out in a double play there," catcher John Jaso said. "He executed in those big opportunities for them not to score. He did a great job with that."
But perhaps his biggest out came in the fifth inning with Guerrero at the plate again and the bases loaded with two outs. The Rangers had a chance to get back in the game with the Rays leading by five runs, but Davis was able to strike out Guerrero with a 1-2 breaking ball that essentially took the wind out of the Rangers' sails.
"It felt great," Davis said of his seventh and final strikeout of the game. "He is one of the most dangerous hitters in baseball. If you make a couple of mistakes, it can change the game. At that point in the game -- for me -- it was the game. If he gets a hit or hits a homer, it is a different ballgame."
Davis ran into trouble again in the sixth, when he allowed a leadoff homer to Nelson Cruz -- his third of the postseason -- and a single to Ian Kinsler before being removed for left-hander Randy Choate. The bullpen, though, did its job from there, with the Rangers only scoring again on an RBI double by Mitch Moreland off Grant Balfour to score Kinsler in that sixth frame.
"Wade pitched an unbelievable game," Balfour said. "[Matt] Garza yesterday and Wade today. Just two great starts. We couldn't ask more from either of those two guys. For us in the bullpen, we're just trying to finish what they started."
It was simply an impressive outing for a 25-year-old with no postseason experience, and his teammates couldn't be any happier about his performance.
"We needed that from him," outfielder Matt Joyce said. "He went out there and got the job done. He put us on his back."
And now with the help of Davis' performance, the Rays are still alive and have a chance to become just the fifth team to overcome a 2-0 deficit in Division Series history.
"We're really excited to be in this position," Pena said. "It's going to be a lot of fun."
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.