Rays aim to inch closer to first place in opener with Red Sox

The hard-charging Tampa Bay Rays will take aim at first place in the American League East over the next few days beginning Monday when 13-game winner Matt Moore takes the hill at Fenway Park for the opener of a four-game set against the Boston Red Sox.

Tampa Bay is just 1 1/2 games behind the first-place BoSox after winning its fifth straight contest and completing a three-game sweep of Toronto on Sunday, its first stop during a 10-game road trip which also features visits to Beantown and the Bronx.

Chris Archer pitched seven stellar innings against the Jays in the finale to help the surging Rays earn a 4-1 decision.

Coming off his first career shutout, Archer picked up right where he left off. He surrendered just one run on five hits and four walks for his third straight winning start. The Rays have won his last six outings.

Luke Scott had a two-run homer in the victory while Evan Longoria and Kelly Johnson connected on solo shots for Tampa Bay, which has won 17 of its last 19 contests overall.

"Baseball's such a unique game," Rays manager Joe Maddon told "The turns and twists are incredible. That's the game we had been losing earlier in the year. Now, we're winning that same game."

Boston, meanwhile, is coming off a series win over its arch rival, the New York Yankees, after gutting out a 7-6, 11-inning win in the rubber match on Sunday thanks to Mike Napoli's walk-off home run.

Napoli also crushed a three-run homer earlier in the four-hour, 46-minute affair, but bounced into a double play with the bases loaded to end the eighth with the game tied.

It stayed 7-7 until Napoli sent Adam Warren's offering into the second row of seats in center field for Boston's ninth walk-off win of the season.

Jonny Gomes added a solo homer and Shane Victorino knocked in a pair of runs for the AL East-leading Sox.

Things figure to be much tougher against the red-hot Rays especially with Moore talking the ball. Tampa Bay has bludgeoned the opposition by a count of 94-44 during its 17-2 run since June 29.

Moore has been one of the AL's top starters in 2013 and is currently tied for the major league lead in wins. The lefty also hurled a scoreless inning in Tuesday's All-Star game.

Most recently Moore allowed three runs on three hits and struck out 10 during 7 1/3 innings of work to top Minnesota, 4-3, in his final outing before the All-Star break back on July 11. The Sunshine State native is on a five-start winning streak during which he has compiled a sterling 1.91 ERA.

Opposing Moore will be rookie Brandon Workman, who took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning of a 3-2, 11-inning loss at Oakland on July 14. The right- hander allowed two runs on two hits and a walk in 6 1/3 innings, becoming the first Red Sox pitcher to allow three or fewer base runners in his first major league start since 1934.

"As well as he pitched against a very good team in Oakland, we're going to have a team that's coming in here as hot as anyone in the game right now," Boston manager John Farrell said.

Boston has won nine of 12 versus the Rays so far this season and Moore is just 1-2 with a 5.48 career ERA against the BoSox.