by Steve Carney
Chris Archer and the Rays pitching staff wasn't perfect, but to win Wednesday, they needed to be.
Daniel Nava's two-run homer in the third inning was all the Boston Red Sox would need, as they took the finale of the three-game series with the Rays 2-1.
Archer allowed just a leadoff walk to Jacoby Ellsbury through the first two innings, and got the first two outs in the third before Ellsbury delivered a two-strike single into left field, stole second base and went to third as Jose Lobaton's throw went into centerfield. Nava then worked an 11-pitch at-bat before the Rays right-hander hung a slider that the Boston outfielder deposited into the right-field seats.
Tampa Bay had a golden opportunity to get on the scoreboard in their half of third, as Matt Joyce walked and went to third on a single by Ben Zobrist. However, Alfredo Aceves was able to strike out Kelly Johnson, and Evan Longoria then grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the threat.
Archer (1-2) left after the fourth inning, throwing 103 pitches in his outing.
Longoria did provide the only scoring for the Rays, launching his thirteenth home run, a solo shot, off Aceves (3-1) in the sixth.
The Rays third baseman had an opportunity to tie the game in the eighth after Johnson doubled with two out, but Koji Uehara struck him out on three pitches.
James Loney singled off Andrew Bailey to lead off the ninth, and pinch-runner Sam Fuld eventually stole second base, but Luke Scott and Jose Lobaton each struck out to end the game and give Bailey his seventh save.
The Kansas City Royals come to town for a four-game series starting Thursday, with Jeremy Hellickson (4-2, 5.18 ERA) taking on Ervin Santana (4-5, 2.99 ERA). First pitch is set for 7:10, with coverage on 620 WDAE and 95.3 FM starting at 6 with the Suncoast Hyundai Dealers Inside Pitch.