Buchholz fans 9 as Sox stay in first place

Buchholz fans 9 as Sox stay in first place

ST. PETERSBURG -- In what may be his final start with Steven Wright set to rejoin the Red Sox's starting rotation, Clay Buchholz turned in a stellar outing against the Rays on Tuesday night.

The right-hander fanned nine, scattered five hits and allowed just one run as the Red Sox beat the Rays, 2-1, at Tropicana Field to stay tied with the Blue Jays atop the American League East.

"That's probably as good a fastball as he's had in quite some time," Boston manager John Farrell said. "He got down and underneath some left-hander's swings. He was never really challenged with a long pitch count in a given inning. It was an outstanding job on his part."

Justice: Red Sox making pitch for playoff run

Chris Archer started for the Rays and wasn't nearly as efficient. He needed 109 pitches to get through five laborious innings. Archer threw first-pitch strikes to just 8 of 21 batters, but he allowed just one earned run.

Archer's six strikeouts

"I was falling behind early," Archer said. "I did throw quite a lot of strikes, but I was 2-0 on everybody. Instead of even being 1-1 or 0-2, it was 2-0 to everybody. There's always room to improve, but every night's not going to be a 70-percent strike game."

It was Buchholz's first win as a starter since May 9, and though he's pitched much better of late, Farrell said he wanted to speak with Buchholz before announcing what the right-hander's exact role will be going forward.

"I've faced these guys a lot," said Buchholz, who has the second-best ERA of any active pitcher against the Rays. "It's one of those things. You execute pitches. A couple mistakes I made they fouled off. I got a double play when I needed it. I was able to work around a couple walks."

Mookie's missile: Kevin Kiermaier doubled with one out in the eighth, but the speedy center fielder tried to stretch the hit into a triple. Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts made him pay by throwing a strike to third baseman Travis Shaw, who slapped the tag down on Kiermaier.

Must C: Betts' strong throw

"I didn't know I could really do that," Betts said. "I think we were all kind of surprised there." More >

Good and poor defense by Rays: Archer got a lift from Tampa Bay's defense in the third when Dustin Pedroia hit a chopper that he appeared destined to beat out. Instead, Rays second baseman Logan Forsythe charged in, gathered the ball and made a snap throw to nab Pedroia at first. Unfortunately for the Rays, when Betts singled to right with two outs, Steven Souza Jr. grabbed the ball and threw wildly to third. The ball went into Boston's dugout, allowing David Ortiz to score what proved to be the game-winning run.

Ortiz scores on an error

"Playing it in my head as the play was going, I knew the ball wasn't hit very hard, but I knew David Ortiz wasn't a very good runner and I thought I could sneak one in there," Souza said. More >

Ending the threat: After the Rays got their first run of the night on an RBI double from Kiermaier, slugger Evan Longoria was up with the tying run in scoring position. Buchholz, struggling for the first time all night, struck out Longoria looking to end the inning. Longoria flipped his bat at the plate in frustration. Buchholz walked only two to go along with his nine strikeouts.

"That's probably the best backdoor changeup I've probably ever thrown," Buchholz said.

Rays' unusual double play

Please don't interfere: With Xander Bogaerts attempting to steal second base with one out in the eighth inning, Brad Boxberger struck out Ortiz swinging. Papi's bat hit catcher Bobby Wilson on the helmet and home-plate umpire Ron Kulpa immediately called interference to end the inning. Both Ortiz and Farrell argued the call to no avail.

"Just kind of in shock there at third base how I got thrown out. I watched the video after the game and saw he made an absolutely perfect throw. I always want to put the pressure on the defense, and it's going to take a perfect throw to throw me out. In this moment, he made an absolutely perfect throw." -- Kiermaier, on Betts' sensational throw

The Rays fell to 8-19 in one-run games, worst in the Major Leagues.

Leon nabs Beckham

Tim Beckham started off the the bottom of the fourth with a single. The next batter, Logan Morrison tried to lay a bunt down on a 1-1 count, but he missed the ball. Beckham got so far off the bag that catcher Sandy Leon threw down to first base to try and pick him off. The play was initially ruled safe, but the Red Sox challenged the ruling. Following a review of 58 seconds, the call was overturned.

Red Sox: Rick Porcello (17-3, 3.22 ERA) has gone at least seven innings in each of his last five starts -- a stretch that includes two eight-inning performances and a complete game. The right-hander is 3-0 against the Rays this season, and he will look to get his fourth win when he faces them on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. ET at Tropicana Field.

Rays: Matt Andriese (6-5, 3.66 ERA) will make his 13th start and 23rd appearance of the season. He's looking to bounce back from consecutive five-run outings. In three career appearances against the Red Sox, Andriese is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA, with the last two of those appearances coming in relief. Andriese is 0-3 in his last three starts and he's lost his last five decisions.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Sam Blum is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg and covered the Red Sox on Tuesday.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.