Clay Buchholz had a strong performance in what might have been his final start before returning to the bullpen.
Buchholz pitched into the seventh inning, David Ortiz had a run-scoring single and the Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1 on Tuesday night to remain tied atop the AL East.
"Was never really challenged in terms of a long pitch count inside of one given inning," Boston manager John Farrell said. "To get into the seventh inning was an outstanding job on his part."
Buchholz (5-9) allowed one run, five hits, two walks and struck out nine in 6 1/3 innings. The right-hander was inserted into the rotation on Aug. 13 after injuries to a couple starting pitchers.
"He's playing a huge role for us right now given the situation where some guys have been nicked up," Farrell said.
In his last five starts at Tropicana Field, Buchholz has given up two earned runs over 33 1/3 innings.
Two injured Boston starters, Steven Wright and Eduardo Rodriguez, could return shortly.
"Just tried to make the most of it," Buchholz said.
Ortiz extended his hitting streak to 10 games with an RBI single in the third. Ortiz scored to make it 2-0 when right fielder Steven Souza Jr. made an errant throw attempting to get Ortiz at third base after fielding Mookie Betts' single.
"Obviously in hindsight I would rather not have thrown it, but I knew David Ortiz was running," Souza said. "But it was a bad throw and it cost us a run."
Boston is tied with Toronto, which beat the Los Angeles Angels 7-2.
Chris Archer (7-17) gave up two runs, five hits and threw 109 pitches in five innings for the Rays. The last 20-game loser in the majors was Detroit's Mike Maroth (21) in 2003.
Archer won his first career start against the Red Sox on Sept. 19, 2012 but has dropped 10 straight decisions to them since.
The Rays got an RBI double from Kevin Kiermaier in the fifth.
The speedy Kiermaier was thrown out trying for a triple in the eighth by Betts from right field.
"Accuracy, I've been pretty good" Betts said. "But hard (throws) was something I didn't know I could do. I think we were all kind of surprised there."
Craig Kimbrel got the final three outs for his 23rd save.
Red Sox: Farrell said Wright (strained right shoulder) is "on tap" to start Friday night against Kansas City after an extended bullpen session Tuesday. ... Rodriguez (left hamstring) had a three-inning simulated game. The team will evaluate him Wednesday. ... C Ryan Hanigan (left ankle) hit against Rodriguez. ... RHP Koji Uehara (right pectoral strain) threw 33 pitches in his first mound session and will be evaluated in a week.
Rays: SS Tim Beckham left after seven innings due to left hamstring tightness.
BIG PAPI POINTS
Ortiz moved past Bobby Doerr into sixth place on Boston's career list with 2,043 hits. He has 1,739 RBIs, which is one away from tying Rafael Palmeiro for the ninth most in AL history.
Red Sox RHP Rick Porcello (17-3), 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA in three starts against Tampa Bay this season, faces Rays RHP Matt Andriese (6-5) on Wednesday night.