ST. PETERSBURG -- Tampa Bay did not get the sweep, nor did it extend its winning streak to 10 games as Boston took a 3-2 win at Tropicana Field on Sunday afternoon with 25,221 watching.
The Rays (51-54) rode a nine-game winning streak into Sunday's contest. Despite the loss, the club is in the midst of a 27-12 mark since June 11. Before that stretch, the Rays had lost 14 of 15 to fall 18 games under .500 at 24-42.
On Monday, the Rays begin a three-game series against the visiting Brewers, kicking off a nine-game run in which they play three series against playoff contenders in the Brewers, the Angels and the Athletics.
"Listen, like I said, this has been a great run we've been on," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Now we've got to start another one-game winning streak tomorrow and try to win another series. We've got two really good teams coming in in Milwaukee and the Angels."
Sunday's loss boiled down to Tampa Bay starter Chris Archer's third-inning troubles and a solid effort by the Boston staff.
Archer escaped a first-inning jam only to find trouble in the third when he issued a one out walk to Daniel Nava. Dustin Pedroia followed with an infield single, then David Ortiz stepped to the plate.
The count went full before Ortiz connected on a changeup, depositing the pitch into the right-field stands for his 25th homer of the season and a 3-0 Red Sox lead.
"I didn't want to throw it down the middle," Archer said. "I was just trying to throw a quality changeup down in the strike zone. The way I had worked him, it was a good option. I just didn't execute."
Ortiz hit five home runs on the Red Sox's seven-game road trip.
"On this road trip, he has swung the bat exceptionally well -- even for the standards he's set for himself," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "But to have that kind of power and that type of bat production in the middle of the lineup, he's a tremendous hiter."
The Rays answered in the bottom half of the inning when Curt Casali drew a one-out walk from Red Sox starter Allen Webster and Kevin Kiermaier added a single. Desmond Jennings then doubled to left-center field to score both runners and cut the lead to 3-2. That would be all the Rays' offense could muster.
Despite throwing 43 pitches in the third, Archer managed to go six innings, allowing three runs on six hits and two walks while striking out three en route to his sixth loss of the season.
"A home run is a home run, and Papi's done that to a lot of people," Maddon said. "To get that deep into the game, I think he threw 43 pitches in that one inning. He went from 32 to 75 and that's really heavy. But then he shows how quickly he can get outs. He had really good stuff today."
Webster allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings to record his first win of the season and second of his career. Craig Breslow, Eward Mujica, Andrew Miller, Junichi Tazawa, and Koji Uehara combined for 3 2/3 scoreless innings to preserve the win.
Rays hitters went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position while stranding seven.
"Their bullpen matched up well with us in the latter part of the game," Maddon said. "We had opportunities and it's not going to be an oil painting every night in spite of the fact you'd love it to be that."
Despite the hot streak the Rays have enjoyed, there remains a since of urgency for what's ahead.
"On a daily basis, man, I'm telling you, it's 'Oct-tember' already," Maddon said. "You can't wait until September. We're going with a new month. It's called Oct-tember and you have to play the rest of the season like there's no Mulligans and every game counts."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.