ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (Reuters) - Starting pitcher Clay Buchholz claimed his sixth win of the season as the Boston Red Sox conquered the high-flying Tampa Bay Rays 6-1 on Monday.
Buchholz (6-3) struck out eight and allowed just one run over six innings for his third straight win on the mound as the resurgent Red Sox continued their good form.
Boston (25-21) scored three times in the third inning and Kevin Youkilis connected for a two-run home run in the fourth as the Red Sox took a commanding 6-0 lead.
The win was Boston's sixth in seven contests and their first of the season over the Major League-best Rays, who swept the Red Sox in four games last month.
"We're going to get better," Boston slugger David Ortiz told reporters. "Everyone was trying to play well from the beginning, but things weren't happening. We're looking good, we have to keep it that way."
Ortiz got Boston off on the right foot, continuing his good form by hammering a solo home run in the second, his fifth in the last nine games.
Second baseman Dustin Pedroia entered the night in an 0-for-19 slump but broke out with three hits in five at-bats.
His single in the third sparked a rally as the Red Sox had a run walked in and got an infield RBI single from Adrian Beltre who finished 3-for-4.
It was just the Rays' (32-13) second loss in the last 10 games with Carlos Pena hitting a solo homer in the fourth for their only score after starting pitcher Wade Davis gave up five runs in three 2/3 innings.
The Rays have led the way in the American League East this season while outperforming the traditionally dominant New York Yankees and Red Sox, but Boston will try to make up ground in this important three-game set.
"We're playing some really good teams and finding some ways to win," Pedroia said. "That's a good sign."
(Reporting by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Edited by Patrick Johnston)