BOSTON -- Drew Pomeranz continued his breakout season by taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning and lifting the Red Sox to a 9-3 victory over the Rays in Friday night's opener of a three-game series at Fenway Park.
Pomeranz, who entered the season with questions about his health and his role, is now tied with teammate Chris Sale and a pair of Indians starters, Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer, for the American League lead in wins with 15.
"[Sale] is the best pitcher in baseball, so I don't feel too competitive with him," said Pomeranz. "He's unreal. It's great. We go out there, and we're trying to help our team win. It's nice to have the wins, but I think both of us care more about team wins and doing our part every fifth day."
Mookie Betts gave Pomeranz some help in this one. In the top of the first, Betts raced back and made a terrific running catch to take extra bases away from Lucas Duda, and in the bottom of the inning, he drilled a three-run homer to give Boston a lead it would not relinquish.
It was a well-balanced attack for the Sox, who scored three in the first and five in the fourth to deliver Rays ace Chris Archer (3-plus innings, 9 hits, 8 runs) an early knockout.
"They found a way to hit balls hard and hit balls soft and find hits, but if I execute at a higher level, I'm at least able to limit the damage," Archer said. "At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what their approach is. If I execute my pitches better, I give my team a chance to win, and I didn't do that tonight."
With the win, the American League East-leading Red Sox pick up a game on the second-place Yankees, who lost in Texas. The Rays fall to 4 1/2 game behind for the second Wild Card spot with the Twins beating the Royals.
Pomeranz (15-5, 3.35 ERA) went six innings, allowing two hits and two runs while striking out seven. Brad Miller ended his no-hit bid with a one-out single in the fifth. Jesus Sucre followed with a two-run shot over the Green Monster.
"We stake him to a three-run lead in the first, and he went out and, as he's been doing, used all of his pitches for strikes, was able to change speeds quite a bit, and we made a couple of key defensive plays," said Red Sox manager John Farrell.
Personifying the way Friday night went for the Rays, the game ended when Kevin Kiermaier blistered a ball to deep center field that Jackie Bradley Jr. hauled in at the wall. The reigning American League Gold Glove winner did all he could do by tipping his cap to Bradley.
"Great catch," Kiermaier said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Mookie ends HR drought: Not only did Betts allow the Red Sox to play in front for nearly the entire night, but he was at last able to end his power drought at 120 at-bats. The homer was the first for Betts since Aug. 3. He curled it just fair down the right-field line inside Pesky's Pole. Of the 73 homers Betts has hit in his career, this was just the third that went to the opposite field.
"I think he's letting the ball travel a bit deeper in the zone, and he's so quick with his hands," said Farrell. "He can let a ball travel deep. I know he's getting a heavy dose of sliders right now. Hopefully just by allowing to let the ball travel a little deeper, he's able to see that pitch better."
LoMo error haunts Rays in fourth: The bottom of the fourth inning had already gotten off to a rocky start for Archer and the Rays, as Devers belted a double, Vazquez followed with a single and Bradley Jr. added a single. Dustin Pedroia then stung a grounder to first that could have been a double play. Instead, first baseman Logan Morrison let it deflect off his glove for an error. Seven straight batters reached before the Rays finally got an out.
"Fairly head-scratching performance. We're sitting there watching from the side saying how good we thought his stuff was." -- Rays manager Kevin Cash, on Archer's outing
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Kiermaier made a 4-star catch in the first on a Xander Bogaerts shallow fly to center, which had just a 32 percent catch probability. Kiermaier made the catch look pretty easy by covering 93 feet in 4.9 seconds, with a sprint speed of 29.6 feet per second. He now has converted seven of nine chances for 4-star catches this season.
Devers has taken an early liking to Fenway, hitting .390 (30-for-77) in his first 21 home games.
SOUZA BANGED UP Steven Souza Jr. had to leave the game after running into the side wall in right field in the fourth inning trying to catch a bloop single by Vazquez. The Rays right fielder had to be helped off the field. He is day to day with a bruised left knee and is scheduled to undergo further testing Saturday. The Rays reported that his knee is structurally sound and stable.
WHAT'S NEXT Rays:Matt Andriese (5-2, 3.78) gets the nod for the Rays on Saturday in the second game of their three-game series against the Red Sox in a 7:10 p.m. ET contest at Fenway Park. He picked up the win in his only appearance against the Red Sox this season (on May 14 in Boston).
Red Sox: Ace Chris Sale (15-7, 2.85 ERA) will try to snap out of a rare slump when he takes the ball for Saturday's contest. Sale has lost three of his last four starts, posting a 5.48 ERA over that span. Against the Rays this season, he is 3-1 with a 2.48 ERA.