BOSTON (AP) - Drew Pomeranz takes pride in his newfound role as a pillar in the Boston Red Sox's rotation, all because of the impact his success has on his teammates in the bullpen.
Pomeranz, who manger John Farrell likened to a stabilizing structure before the game, lived up to the billing when he took a no-hitter into the fifth inning and gave up two runs over six to help the Red Sox rout the Tampa Bay Rays 9-3 on Friday night.
"I take a lot of pride in it," Pomeranz said. "I like to go out there (in the bullpen) and let those guys know that they can rest, give them some time to settle in."
Pomeranz (15-5) struck out seven, allowed two hits and walked two en route to tying Chris Sale for the team lead in victories.
"Chris is the best pitcher in baseball. I don't really feel too competitive with him because he's unreal," Pomeranz said when asked if there was any friendly competition between the two pitchers.
Mookie Betts hit a three-run home run for the Red Sox (80-61), who moved 4 1/2 games ahead of the New York Yankees atop the AL East. Tampa Bay (70-72) fell 4 1/2 games behind Minnesota for the second AL wild card spot.
Jesus Sucre slugged a two-run homer for the Rays, who have homered in a season franchise record 18 straight games.
"That's how we're built, to hit the ball out of the ballpark," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Ideally, we do that with men on base."
Chris Archer (9-9) was roughed up for a season-high eight runs, six earned, and nine hits and struck out five in three-plus innings.
"They found a way to hit balls hard and hit balls soft and find hits," Archer said. "If I execute at a higher level, I'm at least able to limit the damage."
Boston chased Archer from the game with five runs in the fourth to build an 8-0 lead.
Pomeranz's no-hit bid was broken up by Brad Miller's one-out single in the fifth. Sucre added his two-run blast over the Green Monster in left field.
A PESKY FIRST
Betts blasted his homer around Pesky's Pole in right field in the first inning, marking the first time he has hooked a ball around the famous foul pole.
"First (time) for everything," Betts said. "It's tough to hit them over there, but I was lucky enough to get it."
Tampa Bay's upcoming three-game series against the Yankees, scheduled to begin Monday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, has been moved to Citi Field in New York because of Hurricane Irma.
"Wherever we need to play, we'll go play and hope for the best back home," Cash said.
JetBlue Park, the Red Sox's spring training home in Fort Myers, Florida, will serve as a headquarters for first responders during the storm.
Red Sox TV analyst Jerry Remy returned to the booth to broadcast Friday's game after undergoing surgery and treatment for lung cancer. The 64-year-old was diagnosed with a fifth recurrence of the cancer and stepped aside in June.
Rays: RF Steven Souza Jr. left the game in the fourth inning after suffering a left knee bruise during a collision with the right-field wall. Initial tests revealed no structural damage and he will be re-evaluated Saturday. "As soon as it happened, I had a pretty sharp pain running through my kneecap," Souza said. ... RHP Nathan Eovaldi (Tommy John surgery recovery) and LHP Xavier Cedeno (forearm) will pitch for Double-A Montgomery in the Southern League playoffs Saturday.
Red Sox: INF/OF Eduardo Nunez experienced minor mid-back spasms during Wednesday's game and was out of the lineup. He is expected to return Saturday. ... LHP David Price (left elbow inflammation) will throw two simulated innings of 15 to 18 pitches each on Saturday.
Rays: RHP Matt Andriese (5-2, 3.78 ERA) hopes to replicate the success of his last start at Fenway Park on May 14, when he tossed five two-run innings. Andriese is 2-1 with a 4.11 ERA lifetime against Boston.
Red Sox: LHP Sale (15-7, 2.85 ERA) looks to break out of his recent funk after going 1-3 with a 5.48 ERA in his last four starts. Sale is 3-1 with a 2.48 ERA in four starts against Tampa Bay this season.