ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) _ Down to their last chance, the Tampa Bay Rays left no doubt they were World Series-worthy, after all.

Believe it: Baseball’s doormats have arrived.

Going from worst to first, the young Rays completed a stunning run to their first pennant, holding off the defending champion Boston Red Sox 3-1 Sunday night behind Matt Garza’s masterful pitching in Game 7 of the AL championship series.

“It’s unbelievable,” center fielder B.J. Upton said. “We battled a lot of adversity this year. We stuck together as a team.”

And, they showed a bit of Boston-like resolve when they needed it.

The Rays nearly let the series slip away when they blew a seven-run lead late in Game 5 and lost meekly Saturday night. But when rookie David Price struck out J.D. Drew with the bases loaded to end the eighth inning, the Rays were on their way.

Price, who didn’t make his major league debut until late September, also worked the ninth, walking Jason Bay and striking out Mark Kotsay and Jason Varitek before getting pinch-hitter Jed Lowrie ground into a game-ending force play.

Tampa Bay’s worst to first saga was the feel-good story of this season, and it probably was fitting that Price — the least experienced of the young Rays — was on the mound at the most critical point of the ALCS.

“Minimal experience, but I was not hesitant,” manager Joe Maddon said.

When it was over, players and coaches streamed out of the dugout and mobbed Price, eventually falling to the ground in a cluster that continued to grow when others began leaping on the pile.

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