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Rays, Sox locked in a dead heat Tied for wild-card spot entering today's finales

Strong pitching, solid defense and just enough offense. Call it the Rays way.

Tampa Bay continued its improbable bid for the AL wild card with a 5-3 victory over the visiting New York Yankees on Tuesday night, taking the chase down to the last night of the regular season after getting home runs from Matt Joyce and Ben Zobrist and turning a triple play that helped them stay in the game.

Seeking their third playoff berth in four seasons, the Rays are tied with Boston after making up nine games in the standings since Sept. 4.

The Yankees' starter will most likely be a reliever against the Rays' David Price (7 p.m., YES). The Red Sox beat the Orioles in Baltimore 8-7, and if the teams remain tied after today's season finales, they will meet in a one-game playoff Thursday at Tropicana Field.

"We don't feel like we have anything to lose. We've had a great run," Zobrist said. "We're hoping to cap it with a playoff berth."

Added Boston manager Terry Francona: "I think it's really good for baseball, not so good for my stomach. It's exciting. If you don't want to show up [today] and play, you've got no pulse."

Joyce's three-run homer off former teammate Rafael Soriano (2-3) was the All-Star's first in more than three weeks and it wiped out a 3-2 deficit in the seventh. Zobrist hit a two-run drive off Bartolo Colon in the second, and the Rays kept the score close by turning the third triple play in franchise history after falling behind in the sixth.

Boston will be looking to put together its first winning streak tonight (7 p.m., ESPN) since sweeping a doubleheader from Oakland on Aug. 27.

Rookie Ryan Lavarnway became the unlikeliest of heroes for Boston, hitting his first two major league homers -- a three-run drive in the fourth and solo shot in the eighth -- after being thrust into the lineup because of injuries to catchers Jarrod Saltalamacchia (sore collarbone) and Jason Varitek (knee).

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