Rays, Cards win playoff spots in frenzied finish

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The Red Sox will have all winter to lament how they lost.

Boston held a nine-game lead over Tampa Bay on the morning of Sept. 4, but finished 7-20. The Red Sox became the first team to miss the postseason after holding that large of an edge entering September.

Closer Jonathan Papelbon took a 3-2 lead into the ninth at Camden Yards and struck out the first two batters. Chris Davis and Nolan Reimold followed with doubles that tied it, and Robert Andino hit a single that sliding left fielder Carl Crawford _ signed to that $142 million deal in the offseason _ couldn’t quite snag. The Orioles won 4-3.

The ball that escaped Crawford was much harder to field than the one that rolled under Bill Buckner’s glove so many years ago, but no doubt Red Sox fans will cringe at the memory of both.

“End of season like this, to make Boston go home sad, crying, I’ll take it all day,” Andino said.

The Cardinals, who trailed the Braves by 10 1/2 games before play on Aug. 26, made it easy on themselves as Chris Carpenter pitched them to an 8-0 win at Houston.

An hour or so later, St. Louis was in the playoffs when the Braves blew it. Philadelphia nicked closer Craig Kimbrel for a tying run in the ninth and won 4-3 in the 13th at Turner Field.

“This is tough,” Braves catcher Brian McCann said. “This is one of the worst feelings I’ve ever had coming off a baseball field.”

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