DURHAM, N.C. -- Ivan De Jesus had a hard time summing up how the Pawtucket Red Sox stayed alive in the Governors' Cup Finals.
"I would say the most crazy game I played in my career was today," he said. "That is one of them. Now we go to the championship."
Twice, the Durham Bulls were on the verge of winning their second straight International League championship, only to have the PawSox dodge elimination.
De Jesus' two-out two-run homer in the 13th inning off reliever Jake Thompson propelled Pawtucket to win 4-2 on Friday night and forced a decisive fifth game in the Governors' Cup Finals.
Durham hosts the winner-take-all contest on Saturday afternoon.
"I was supposed to be home and now I'm playing for a championship," De Jesus said.
In the other clubhouse, the Bulls were coming to grips about how close they were to sewing up a second straight title.
"Twice," Durham manager Charlie Montoyo said. "Got to give the credit to them. Their guy got a hit when he had to. They made a helluva throw to get [Cole] Figueroa out. They made all the plays."
Or, as PawSox manager Kevin Boles said trying to sort through the highlights, "Let's just pick a couple."
Pawtucket newcomer Rusney Castillo came through with a game-tying RBI single in the ninth inning when the Bulls were a strike away from the title. The Red Sox's heralded Cuban signee fell in an 0-2 hole before drilling a 1-2 pitch into center field off closer Adam Liberatore. It scored pinch-runner Derrik Gibson, who entered after Alex Hassan drew his fourth walk of the game.
That marked Pawtucket's first earned run in 20 innings against Durham's bullpen in the series.
The PawSox avoided elimination again in the 10th when left fielder Bryce Brentz threw out Figueroa, who tried to score from second base on Mikie Mahtook's one-out single off closer Heath Hembree.
"I thought I did it," Mahtook said. "[Figueroa] did everything right, [Brentz] just made a perfect play. Just a perfect play."
Catcher Blake Swihart scooped the short-hop throw, barely making the tag to prevent the winning run.
"That's the perfect single for him to score," Montoyo said. "I was like, 'Oh, yes.'"
The conclusion wasn't without drama as the Bulls put two runners on with two outs in the 13th before Nick Franklin flied to right.
"One of those games you never quit," De Jesus said. "They're at their place, at their home."
Bulls starter Mike Montgomery, slated to pitch only if there was a Game 5, took the mound for the first time since Aug. 28. He allowed a first-inning run on three hits while throwing only 50 of 103 pitches for strikes.
Pawtucket starter Eduardo Rodriguez was solid in his Triple-A debut, giving up two runs on six hits and two walks while striking out six. Acquired from the Orioles organization on July 31, he threw 25 pitches in the opening frame but fanned two to leave runners at the corners.
Promoted from Double-A Portland, Keith Couch will pitch Game 5 for Pawtucket, while Durham counters with International League All-Star Merrill Kelly.
"At the end of the day, we're going to the fifth game after we won the league last year," Montoyo said. "That's not that bad."
Bob Sutton is a contributor to MiLB.com.