ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- David Ortiz crushed a two-run homer in the first inning, and that was enough to lead the Boston Red Sox to their ninth straight win, edging the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1 on Friday night at Tropicana Field.
Boston manager John Farrell said he hasn't seen many Ortiz home runs as impressive as this one, for several reasons.
"Particularly on a 97-mph fastball that's probably chest high, he goes up and hooks. The distance, the impact, all of it," Farrell said. "We made the two-run homer stand up, obviously."
Boston's nine straight wins matches their longest streak in more than five years, while Rays starter Chris Archer (8-19) set a franchise record for losses while also dropping his 11th straight decision against the Red Sox.
"We just lost. I'm not trying to be funny, but I'm really glad I never have to face that guy again," Archer said of Ortiz. "He's a really good hitter. I feel like we've gotten the best of each other, and in terms of baseball, he's gotten the best of me more than I got the best of him."
Drew Pomeranz (3-5) threw five innings and the bullpen held Tampa Bay to two hits in the final four despite resting two of their best relievers.
Boston (90-64) remained 5 1/2 games ahead of Toronto in the American League East. The Rays (65-88) have dropped four of their last five, and are 7-10 against the Red Sox this season.
The Rays got a leadoff double from Evan Longoria to put the tying run in scoring position in the ninth, but Brad Ziegler got three outs for his 19th save, including a strikeout swinging against Mikie Mahtook, who had homered for the Rays' only run.
Ziegler walked Corey Dickerson intentionally with two outs to get to rookie Juniel Querecuto, who made his major league debut Thursday and struck out to end the game.
"They continue to come in and execute extremely well," Farrell said of his bullpen.
Archer got into trouble in the first. He walked Xander Bogaerts before giving up the home run Ortiz, who opened his final series at Tropicana Field. Ortiz's 37th home run of the season bounced off a catwalk high above right field.
"It stinks whenever you're on the mound for so many team losses," Archer said of his record 19th. "A lot of times, it goes back to a couple of situations here and there. Just need to be better in those situations. We know we play tight games, we play one-run games ... I just wish I could have been a little better on my end in that first inning."
The Rays got one run back in the second as Mahtook hit his second home run of the season to cut the lead to 2-1. Mahtook added two more hits, raising his average from .174 to .182.
The Rays threatened to tie the game in the fourth, with Brad Miller hitting a double and Mahtook following with a single.
With one out, Corey Dickerson hit a grounder and couldn't beat out the double play, allowing Boston to escape with the lead.
NOTES: All the victories in the Red Sox's winning streak have come by four runs or fewer. ... The Red Sox became the first team in MLB history to score exactly five runs in five straight games -- all wins, capped by Thursday's 5-3 victory in Baltimore. The last team to win five straight games while scoring the same number of runs in each was the 1989 Brewers, who scored seven runs in each of six straight wins. ... The Rays gave out their team honors at their Baseball Writers' Association of America luncheon. 3B Evan Longoria was honored with the Don Zimmer Award (team MVP) while LHP Blake Snell was named Outstanding Rookie. Casey Gillaspie was Minor League Player of the Year and RHP Brent Honeywell was Minor League Pitcher of the Year.