ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Clay Buchholz won for the first time in six weeks and the rookies kept getting the job done on Sunday as the Boston Red Sox downed Tampa Bay Rays 3-0 at Tropicana Field.
Buchholz allowed just three hits and struck out six to improve to 6-8 in a subtly dominating performance. The complete game was his second of the season and first since July 13.
Meanwhile, rookies Brock Holt, Mookie Betts and Xander Boegarts finished a collective 5-for-12 with two doubles, two runs and an RBI to factor into every Boston run.
The Red Sox won for the fourth time in their last six to improve to 60-76, but remained buried in the American League East standings. The youth initiative commenced with the jettisoning of several expensive veterans at the trade deadline continued to take the sting off a dismal season, however.
Tampa Bay (66-71) lost for the 10th time in 15 games since clawing back to the .500 mark on Aug. 15 and lurching ever closer to mathematical elimination from wild-card contention. In all reality, the Rays are already finished. Tampa Bay will conclude August with a losing record for the second straight season after compiling winning records in the month over the previous five campaigns.
Boston took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when shortstop Boegarts singled and took third on a throwing error by pitcher Alex Cobb, and scored on a base hit by catcher Christian Vazquez.
Holt sparked another scoring rally with two outs in the fifth when he singled, stole second and scored when fellow Betts singled to right. Boston led 2-0.
Betts led off the eighth with a double to the gap in left-center against reliever Joel Peralta and scored on a single by designated hitter David Ortiz.
Right-hander Buchholz won for the first time in eight starts since July 18. The hit total was the lowest relinquished by Buchholz since that most recent win against Kansas City.
Cobb (9-7) had a career-best streak of seven straight wins broken and lost for the first time in 12 starts dating to June 23. He allowed two runs on seven hits and a walk with six strikeouts.
NOTES: Boston 2B Dustin Pedroia was out of the lineup after being elbowed in the head and experiencing concussion-like symptoms attempting to tag Tampa Bay’s Logan Forsythe at second base on Saturday night. Brock Holt, who played five games at short when rookie Xander Boegarts was on the seven-day concussion list last week, started at second base. … Cuban OF Rusney Castillo went 1-for-2 with a single and was caught stealing in his Red Sox debut on Sunday in Game 2 of the Gulf Coast League championship series against the Yankees affiliate. Castillo, 27, last Saturday signed a seven-year, $72.5 million deal. After batting leadoff as a DH on Sunday, he is slated to play for the Red Sox Florida State League affiliate in Tampa on Monday. … Boston acquired utility player Jemile Weeks and minor league infielder Ivan De Jesus Jr. from the Orioles for utility player Kelly Johnson and 3B Michael Almanzar.