SAN DIEGO — Kevin Kiermaier had seen enough.Watching his Rays lose the previous three games in the American League Championship Series to the Astros hurt worse than the pain in his left wrist, so Kiermaier returned to the lineup for Saturday night’s Game 7 that would determine who went to the World Series.He was still in considerable pain from being hit by a 99-mph fastball Tuesday in Game 3. A heavy tape job would restrict his swing. And he couldn’t risk doing much pregame work.But the centerfielder knew he had to be out there.“Didn’t think it could come to this for me missing the last three games, but it’s been a battle. It has‚” Kiermaier said before the Rays’ 4-2 win to earn that World Series trip. “Trust me, I would have done anything to be out there, but it just wasn’t realistic. (Saturday was) Game 7, and enough said right there. So I’m in there, and I’m ready to go.”Manager Kevin Cash talked with Kiermaier after Friday’s loss in Game 6 and got the sense he was “cautiously optimistic” about returning. Kiermaier arrived early Saturday to take some swings in the batting cage and said he felt “okay.” That was good enough.Kiermaier went 0-for-3, striking out each time.“First of all, I appreciate that he’s in there,” Cash said before the game. “We’re a better club when he’s out there. And is he playing (in pain)? Without a doubt. But he wants to be a part of this Game 7.”Kiermaier said he reminded some of the players Friday that even though they had missed three chances to eliminate the Astros, they still had an opportunity any of them would have signed up for: playing one game for the chance to join the 2008 club as the only Rays teams to reach the World Series.He said he had no plans to address the group before Saturday’s game.“There’s no words needed,” he said. “We know what we’re playing for. We want to represent this organization and get to that final stage. We’re not playing for just ourselves and our family and friends. We’re playing for a community, all the Rays fans out there. We want to take that final leap into playing on the biggest stage of the year.”Saturday was the eighth winner-take-all game in Rays history. They improved to 6-2 in them.It was their second Game 7. The other was a 3-1 win over the Red Sox in the 2008 AL Championship Series, the result of similar but not quite as dramatic circumstances as this year’s Game 7.The Rays lost the opener, won the next three to take a commanding lead, then lost Games 5 (blowing a 7-0 lead) and 6 to force a Game 7 at Tropicana Field.Matt Garza gave up a homer to No. 2 hitter Dustin Pedroia but pitched seven strong innings. Evan Longoria and Rocco Baldelli knocked in runs to get the Rays even and ahead. Willy Aybar added an insurance run with a seventh-inning homer, and rookie David Price got the final four outs.Second baseman Akinori Iwamura stepping on the bag for the final out is considered one of the greatest moments in franchise history.The Rays already had played one winner-take-all game this postseason, beating the Yankees 2-1 in Game 5 of the ALDS eight days earlier. Last year, they beat the A’s 5-1 in the wild-card game and lost to the Astros in Game 5 of the ALDS.Their other winner-take-all games were the 2013 wild-card game (4-0 win over Indians), the 2013 AL tiebreaker (5-2 win over Rangers) and the 2010 ALDS Game 5 (5-1 loss to Rangers).Saturday was an interesting notation for Rays starter Charlie Morton and Astros starter Lance McCullers Jr., a Tampa native. They became the first pitchers to team up in a winner-take-all game, as they did for Houston in Game 7 of the 2017 ALCS (vs. the Yankees) and 2017 World Series (vs. the Dodgers), then start against each other in another winner-take-all game. Morton got the win, pitching 5⅔ shutout innings and allowing just two hits, with six strikeouts and one walk. McCullers took the loss, giving up three runs on two homers and allowing four hits total, with one walk and seven strikeouts in 3⅔ innings. Morton is the only pitcher in big-league history with wins in four winner-take-all games, and one of six pitchers with wins in five elimination games.Saturday’s game marked the first time teams met in Game 5 of a League Division Series and Game 7 of a League Championship Series the next year. It was the seventh time the same teams played winner-take-all games in back-to-back seasons, Elias Sports said. The most recent ones before Saturday were the A’s and Tigers in the 2012-13 ALDS and the Yankees and Red Sox in the 2003-04 ALCS. … As you might have heard, this series was the second of the now 39 times in major-league history that a team took a 3-0 lead only to have it go to a Game 7. The Red Sox rallied to beat the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS. … The Astros were looking to pull off the largest upset in a postseason series based on regular-season winning percentage, as the Rays were .184 points better — .667 (going 40-20) to .483 (29-31).“How I woke up? I was hungry. I had an omelette, some orange juice and coffee.” — Cash, answering a question from Fox Sports Sun’s Rich Hollenberg, then adding that he got more eager as the morning went on to get to the stadiumThe Rays get to play in front of actual fans in the World Series. Major League Baseball sold — and quickly sold out of — a limited number of tickets to the games, for around 25 percent of the capacity of 40,300 at new Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. The same was done for the Braves-Dodgers NLCS games there, with average attendance around 10,750. … Cash and his coaches saw some of the Braves-Dodgers series and the new retractable-roof stadium, where the World Series starts Tuesday. “I’ve heard the park at times it plays big and then at times the ball’s flying,” Cash said Thursday. "I don’t think we’ll have a good sense until if we’re fortunate enough to get there.'' … U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist had first-pitch honors Saturday; U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor handled Friday’s game. … Cash was there for the Rays' other ALCS Game 7, as a backup catcher for the Red Sox: “At that point I was just trying to be a really good cheerleader. I guess I didn’t cheer well enough.” … This was the eighth ALCS to go to a Game 7 since the format was expanded in 1985.