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Buchholz flirts with no hitter, Sox blank Rays

Apr 14, 2013 - 9:08 PM Boston, MA (Sports Network) - Clay Buchholz took a no-hitter into the eighth inning and racked up a career-high 11 strikeouts in a dominant pitching performance that led the Boston Red Sox to a 5-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park.

Buchholz (3-0) had issued just four walks before surrendering a leadoff single to Kelly Johnson in the top of the eighth and gave up one more hit before finishing out the inning. It was the third straight standout effort for the righty to begin the season, having yielded just one run over 14 frames in winning his first two starts.

Dustin Pedroia went 3-for-4 with a run scored to pace the Red Sox offensively, with Mike Napoli contributing a two-run double to Boston's second straight triumph in this rain-shortened three-game series that wraps up on Monday.

The Rays, now losers of five of their last six, mustered just three hits total and have scored a mere four runs over their past four outings.

Alex Cobb (1-1) worked 6 2/3 innings for Tampa Bay, allowing four runs -- three earned -- on seven hits while striking out six.

Buchholz was no match for Tampa Bay's sputtering offense, especially early on. The right-hander amassed eight of his strikeouts over the first four innings while yielding just a pair of baserunners over that span -- a walk to James Loney in the second and a leadoff free pass to Ben Zobrist in the fourth.

He received all the support he needed in a four-run bottom of the third, during which the Sox loaded the bases with none out when Shane Victorino dropped down a bunt single around base hits from Jacoby Ellsbury and Pedroia.

Napoli followed by crushing a Cobb changeup to the deepest part of the park, with the double that one-hopped the wall in center bringing in the game's first two runs.

Cobb then hit Daniel Nava with a pitch to refill the sacks before forcing out Pedroia at the plate, but Rays shortstop Yunel Escobar threw wildly to first on a potential double-play grounder off the bat of Stephen Drew to enable both Napoli and Nava to score for a 4-0 advantage.

Drew and Pedroia kept the no-hit bid intact in the sixth, when Desmond Jennings hit a hard smash to short that the former knocked down and the latter alertly fired to first to record the out.

The play enabled Sam Fuld, who drew a leadoff walk to begin the frame, to advance to second before reaching third on an Evan Longoria fly out. However, Buchholz retired Matt Joyce to end the mild threat, then registered two more punchouts during a 1-2-3 seventh.

His attempt at a second career no-no finally came to an end when Johnson delivered a clean single to right to open the eighth. Buchholz regrouped to induce a double-play grounder from Fuld, but Jennings followed with a double off the Green Monster before Zobrist flied out to preserve the shutout.

Pedroia doubled off Jamey Wright to lead off the bottom of the eighth, took second on a Napoli ground out, and scored Boston's final run on Will Middlebrooks' sacrifice fly.

Game Notes

Buchholz, who no-hit Baltimore in his second career major league start back on Sept. 1, 2007, topped his previous personal best of 10 strikeouts set against Texas on Apr. 22, 2010 ... The Rays went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and have now failed in 22 straight at-bats in such situations. They also did not homer for a sixth consecutive game and rank last in the AL in runs scored (33) ... Nava had an eight-game hitting streak dating back to last season end after going 0-for-2 ... Tomorrow's finale will begin at 11:05 a.m. (ET) as part of the Red Sox' annual celebration of Patriot's Day.