ST. PETERSBURG -- Finally, with some offensive momentum to build off of, Red Sox manager Terry Francona went with the same starting nine for Saturday night's American League Championship Series Game 6 that produced Boston's historic 8-7 comeback victory in Game 5 over the Rays on Thursday night.
Center fielder Coco Crisp was in the leadoff spot for the second straight game. Though Crisp has typically batted in the lower portion of the order this season, it was his 10-pitch at-bat that led to a game-tying single in the bottom of the eighth, helping to set up a victory in a game the Red Sox had trailed 7-0.
"I knew who was going to play. I didn't know what order," Francona said. "We could have led off [Mark] Kotsay, led off J.D. [Drew], led off Coco. Me and [bench coach Brad Mills] sat here forever. Every time we'd look at it, having Coco at the top gave us the balance we were looking for. That's kind of what we ended up with."
The only changes in the lineup were some alignment tweaks because the Rays were going with right-hander James Shields.
Sox Game 6 lineup
1. Coco Crisp
2. Dustin Pedroia
3. David Ortiz
4. Kevin Youkilis
5. J.D. Drew
6. Jason Bay
7. Mark Kotsay
8. Jed Lowrie
9. Jason Varitek
Drew, perhaps the biggest hero of Game 5, moved from sixth to fifth in the order, flip-flopping with left fielder Jason Bay.
Kotsay, who had a two-out double to set up Crisp's equalizer, went from ninth to seventh. Shortstop Jed Lowrie moved from seventh to eighth.
Catcher Jason Varitek, who came into Game 6 hitless in 12 at-bats in the series, batted ninth.
The Red Sox players with the most success against Shields were in their normal spots in the order. No. 2 hitter Dustin Pedroia came in 5-for-10 against Shields, while No. 3 hitter David Ortiz was 7-for-14 with two homers and six RBIs.
Francona has used a different batting alignment for all six games in the series.
"We've had to make some changes every day pretty much just because of health, production," Francona said. "We try to think it through during the season, too. I'll tell [Mills] the night before. If somebody is not playing or somebody is banged up, we'll tell them the night before. We always know who's playing. It doesn't take terribly long."
Rays manager Joe Maddon, meanwhile, went with the same lineup from Game 5 -- Tampa Bay's normal lineup against a right-hander -- with Cliff Floyd as the DH against Boston starter Josh Beckett.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.