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04/26/08 12:54 AM ET

Haynes hands Rays a win in extras

Timely hit caps off evening of fine defense and gutsy play

ST. PETERSBURG -- A Nathan Haynes single ended it, but a cast of Rays heroes won the game on Friday night.

Haynes singled home Carl Crawford in the bottom of the 11th to give the Rays a 5-4 win over the Red Sox in front of a crowd of 30,290 at Tropicana Field.

Crawford led off the 11th with a single to left against Mike Timlin and promptly stole second on Timlin's second pitch to B.J. Upton. Upton then walked, bringing up Haynes, who hit the second pitch he saw into right field to easily bring home Crawford with the winning run.

Manager Joe Maddon did not want to bunt the runners up because it would have created an empty base, which the Red Sox could have filled by intentionally walking Evan Longoria. So Haynes, who entered the game with three RBIs, was given the green light to hit away.

"In the back of your mind, you want to make him right," Haynes said. "I told myself to be patient. ... How many times do you get that opportunity? It's an amazing feeling. It's the best RBI [of my Major League career]. ... It was my first game-winning RBI. I'm sure I'll remember it for a while."

If one inning served as a microcosm of how well the Rays played, it was the ninth, when they overcame a mistake that allowed the game to continue.

Kevin Cash singled to lead off the inning against Rays right-hander Dan Wheeler. One out later, Dustin Pedroia grounded to second baseman Akinori Iwamura, who first looked to tag out Cash advancing to second. When Cash stopped in his tracks, Iwamura hesitated before snapping off a hurried throw to first. Pedroia beat the throw, and Cash slid safely under shortstop Jason Bartlett's tag at second when first baseman Eric Hinske's throw arrived late.

Wheeler suddenly found himself in a situation that required retiring David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez to keep the Rays in the game.

"It had been such a well-played game all day, and you want to put up a zero and get these guys back out there and hopefully push a run across in the ninth inning and go home happy," Wheeler said. "I just wanted to go out there and make some pitches and, obviously, [I was] hoping not to get to Ortiz and Ramirez, no question two of the best hitters in the game."

Maddon visited the mound after the botched play.

"[Maddon] said something about the play. I said, 'That play's over, we've got to worry about Ortiz, that's not going to change it,' " Wheeler said. "I didn't want to hear that. Now I have a bigger problem in front of me -- I've got to get David Ortiz out. So I wanted to just stay focused on that task and make some pitches."

Which he did, retiring Ortiz on a popout to shallow center before striking out Ramirez to end the inning.

The Rays made many stellar plays in the field, including diving catches by Crawford and Upton in the outfield, and two amazing backhanded plays by Bartlett at shortstop.

Offensively, Crawford led the way, with two triples and a single, three runs scored and an RBI. Matt Garza put forth a gutsy performance, surviving through the fifth inning after giving up three runs on 40 pitches in the second. And, finally, the bullpen shined yet again.

J.P. Howell, who celebrated his 25th birthday on Friday, took over for Garza in the sixth and allowed a run, but added two scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth to get to Wheeler. Wheeler, Trever Miller, Gary Glover and Scott Dohmann then tacked on three additional scoreless frames to preserve the victory.

"Awesome job [by the bullpen]," Wheeler said. "And the defense was unbelievable. B.J. and Crawford making diving catches, and Bartlett at short was unbelievable."

The Rays are riding a four-game winning streak in moving to 12-11 on the season.

"Tremendous defensive plays, really intense ballgame," Maddon said. "Even if it's April, it felt like a playoff atmosphere."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.