Not since Buchholz's last turn in the rotation had a Boston starter pitched six innings.
And Buchholz went exactly six against the Rays, allowing two hits and a run while walking three and striking out 10.
"Best I've felt all year," Buchholz said. "I felt that way warming up. Getting here today, I felt really good. My mindset was to build off the last time out. I just about had all of my pitches working the way I wanted to."
This was a far different Buchholz than the one who got shelled for 10 runs at Yankee Stadium on April 12, and 12 hits -- albeit just two runs -- against the Orioles last week.
"I thought Clay threw the ball outstanding tonight," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "There was quality stuff for the six innings of work. I thought he threw some pitches with some purpose in off the plate to keep some hitters honest. Four pitches for strikes. Made a couple of key pitches, particularly in the sixth inning. That's been a little bit of a bump for us. But he did his job."
It was the latest strong effort by Buchholz at Tropicana Field, where he has a 1.90 ERA over his career.
"I've faced these guys a lot in the past. I can't go at them the same exact way every time," Buchholz said. "I was able to throw all my pitches and use them in different situations for strike one or a strikeout or a ball in play or to get back in the count. For the most part, I feel like I did pretty good at that. I felt really good. You're supposed to win the games you feel really good. It didn't happen tonight."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.