ST. PETERSBURGH, Fla. -- When a team blows a 6-0 lead -- built after the first eight batters in the first inning -- and then proceeds to blow a second lead after scoring two runs in the top of the 10th inning, the assumption is it just isn't their night.
The Red Sox, however, decided not to roll over.
Having already squandered two leads, the Red Sox made sure to hold onto a third, finally nailing down a 10-8 victory in the early morning hours of Thursday, nearly 5 1/2 hours after they began.
They had begun by scoring runs with such ease -- six in the first inning after the first eight hitters reached base safely against Alex Cobb -- that it would have been unthinkable that they would be on verge of defeat numerous times later in the game.
That they survived and came back to win says something.
"Every time we seemed to get a little breathing room," lamented John Farrell, "they'd come right back. I can't say enough about the way our guys continued to grind away through a very long night."
From start to finish, this one had, as Dustin Pedroia "just about everything you can see in a baseball game."
- A bench-emptying shoving match after John Lackey plunked Matt Joyce in the back in the sixth inning.
Earlier, Lackey had taken exception to Joyce's admiration for a long foul ball in the second inning and had words with the Tampa Bay bench.
Joyce called it a "really bush league move," while manager Joe Maddon, who coached Lackey in Anaheim, said it "really a bad moment for (Lackey) tonight."
- Charges from the Tampa Bay broadcast team that the Sox were stealing signs, explaining their six-run uprising against Cobb.
"Yeah, we did," Jarrod Saltalamacchia told MassLive.com, with extra sarcasm. "We had all the signs, and in the second inning, we decided to shut that down and just stopped stealing signs and try to do it naturally."
Indeed, charges aside, the game featured a complete role reversal for the Sox at the plate. After scoring six runs in the first inning, the Red Sox were blanked for the next eight innings and limited to just two hits.
Like night and day.
- John Farrell being ejected in the 12th inning after Tampa Bay reliever Cesar Ramos was given extra time to warm up because Tampa said reliever Kyle Farnsworth was injured.
"In the previous at-bat," said Farrell of Farnsworth, "he's 94-96 mph. He didn't look hurt. That was my stance at the moment."
- Andrew Bailey coughed up a two-run lead in the 10 by allowing a solo homer to Jose Labaton then allowed the game-tying run by walking Kelly Johnson with the bases loaded.
But as bad as that was, Bailey somehow found a way to prevent the Rays from going ahead for good despite the fact that Tampa Bay had the bases loaded and no outs.
"Can't walk three guys," said Bailey shaking his head. "Just can't do that."
But he did -- and then limited the damage when there was no margin for error by getting Evan Longoria to ground into a 5-2-3 double play before Pedroia raced in almost from the outfield grass to snare a pop-up inches from the ground behind the pitcher's mound.
"Getting out of it, I guess, is good," said Bailey. "But it shouldn't have come to that. I've got to come in and throw strikes in that situation."
When it was over, and the Red Sox trudged out of Tropicana Field almost 12 hours after they had arrived, there was, however, a sense of satisfaction.
"This is a big win for us," said Bailey. "To battle in a game like that . . . guys were playing hard, guys were grinding."
When the Sox were here last month, a bases-loaded double by Will Middlebrooks in the ninth sparked a huge comeback win against the Rays and the win seemed to propel the Sox out of a funk into which they had fallen.
This time, the Sox are rolling, having won eight of 11, but Monday's win could carry them a while.
"It was a huge character win," said Bailey. "Anytime you have an extra-inning game where it's kind of back and forth and you grind it out and you get (a win) in the end, there's a lot of confidence. It just makes it that much sweeter and that much better the next day when you're able to squeeze out one like this."
"We did a lot of things well tonight," maintained Farrell, "(including) most importantly, scoring one more run than they did."
Actually, it was two. But you get his point.