Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz homered to back the strong pitching of Clay Buchholz and lead the resurgent Boston Red Sox to a 6-1 victory over the host Tampa Bay Rays last night.
The Red Sox beat baseball's top team for the first time in five tries, climbing a season-best four games over .500 (25-21) with their third straight win on a difficult road trip that began in Philadelphia.
Buchholz (6-3) won his eighth consecutive road start dating to last August, the longest such streak by a Red Sox pitcher since Roger Clemens won nine in a row from July 18, 1992 to April 20, 1993.
The righthander allowed one run - Carlos Pena's eighth homer - and six hits over six innings. Hideki Okajima and Daniel Bard didn't allow any baserunners the rest of the way.
Ortiz homered for the fifth time in his last nine games, hitting a solo shot off Wade Davis (4-4) in the second inning. Davis walked in a run and yielded RBI singles to Adrian Beltre and Jeremy Hermida during a three-run third that put the Red Sox up 4-0.
Youkilis, who is batting .400 (12-for-30) with five homers and 12 RBI over his last nine games, made it 6-0 with a two-run shot off reliever Lance Cormier in the fourth.
Boston's Dustin Pedroia had three hits after beginning the night in an 0-for-19 slide. Beltre also finished with three hits for the Red Sox, who began their six-game trip by winning two of three against the NL champion Phillies.
At 32-13, the Rays are off to the best start in the major leagues since 2001, in part because of a 19-5 road record that includes a four-game sweep of the Red Sox at Fenway Park in April. The six-game lead they carried into yesterday was the largest they've ever held in the AL East.
Buchholz, who's won five of his last six starts, walked one and struck out eight. But it wasn't an easy outing.
The Red Sox starter escaped a bases-loaded jam when John Jaso grounded into an inning-ending doubleplay in the first inning. He wiggled out of another tight situation by striking out Reid Brignac and Jason Bartlett to strand two more runners in scoring position in the second.
Pena homered with two outs in the fourth.
Boston's Victor Martinez left in the third inning. Bartlett fouled a pitch off the catcher's left big toe in the second, and Martinez had trouble walking - much less running - after drawing a walk in the third.
Before the game, Boston recalled reliever Scott Atchison from Triple A Pawtucket and optioned infielder Angel Sanchez to the International League club.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona said outfielder Mike Cameron, on the 15-day disabled list since April 20 because of a lower abdominal strain, will be activated today.
In another game:
* At Cleveland, Mark Teahen drove in three runs, John Danks went the minimum to stop a personal three-game slide and the Chicago White Sox snapped a five-game losing streak against Cleveland by beating the hapless Indians, 7-2.
* The Texas Rangers have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in an effort to spur completion of the stalled $575 million sale of the team - and maybe clear the decks for the new owners to make pennant-chasing decisions this summer.
The bankruptcy filing yesterday comes 4 months after Tom Hicks announced an agreement to sell the team to a group led by Hall of Fame pitcher and team president Nolan Ryan and Pittsburgh attorney Chuck Greenberg.
"I did not want to put the baseball future of the Texas Rangers in jeopardy or uncertainty for an extended period of time," Hicks said. "This action is all about creating an end to the impasse in allowing this team sale to go forward."
Even if the court approves the Rangers bankruptcy petition, the sale would take several more weeks to complete.
"I know it will be faster than the other alternative would have been," said Hicks, who bought the team in 1998 from a group that included former president George W. Bush.