ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — If there’s a secret to Boston’s success against Chris Archer, the Red Sox aren’t eager to share it.

David Ortiz, Pablo Sandoval and Alejandro De Aza homered against Tampa Bay’s best pitcher on Sunday, keying a 5-3 victory that clinched a series win over the first-place Rays and stopped Archer’s career-best six-game winning streak.

The last-place Red Sox beat the right-hander for the second time this season. Archer dropped to 1-6 with a 5.48 ERA in nine career starts against Boston, compared to 28-18 with a 2.88 ERA in 69 appearances against all other opponents.

“He’s a great pitcher, but we have a bat in the hand,” Sandoval said. “If you make a mistake, we’re going to take advantage.”

Ortiz hit a two-run shot off Archer (9-5) in the fourth inning, the slugger’s 31st career homer at Tropicana Field – more than any visiting player.

Sandoval and De Aza, who homered for the third time in four days, went deep in the second inning for a 2-0 lead. Sandoval also drove in a sixth-inning run with a sacrifice fly that made it 5-1.

Meanwhile, Justin Masterson (3-2) allowed only an unearned run and five hits over five innings to win for the first time since beating Baltimore at Fenway Park on April 20. The start was the right-hander’s first since a six-week stint on the disabled list because of tendinitis in his pitching shoulder.

Alexi Ogando, Jonathan Aro, Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara followed Masterson. Uehara worked the ninth for his 16th save in 18 opportunities.

Archer began the day with an AL-best 2.01 ERA. He yielded a career-high three homers while allowing five runs, five hits and striking out 10 over six innings.

“They seemed like good pitches. Not great, but sill probably considered a mistake,” Archer said of the homers. Entering the game, he had given up only six homers, including two on Opening Day, when De Aza also connected off the right-hander while playing for Baltimore.

“I thought Arch was really good. Six innings, 10 punchouts, five hits – the home run just kind of beat us up a little bit,” Rays Manager Kevin Cash said.

The loss was the fifth in seven games for Tampa Bay, which leads the AL East by a half-game over the New York Yankees.

Grady Sizemore got three hits, including a seventh-inning RBI single off Tazawa, in his debut for Tampa Bay. The Rays signed him to a minor league contract after the three-time AL All-Star was released by the Philadelphia Phillies this month.

Asdrubal Cabrera drove in two runs for the Rays with a fifth-inning single off Masterson and a seventh-inning triple off Aro.


RED SOX: Left fielder Hanley Ramirez (left hand) missed his fourth straight game and has returned to Boston for an MRI. … Catcher Ryan Hanigan (broken right hand) is expected back Wednesday.

RAYS: Cash said center fielder Kevin Kiermaier was out of the lineup for the second straight game because “his legs are a little drained.” … First baseman James Loney (broken left middle finger) took batting practice.


Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli was ejected by plate umpire Tripp Gibson after arguing a called third strike in the second inning. Brock Holt shifted from second base to first, and rookie Deven Marrero moved into Napoli’s spot in the batting order while making his major league debut at second base. With Ramirez unavailable, that left Boston with just one reserve position player – switch-hitting catcher Sandy Leon.


RED SOX: Begin a four-game series at Toronto, with right-hander Clay Buchholz (5-6, 3.68 ERA) opposing Blue Jays right-hander R.A Dickey (3-7, 4.88).

RAYS: Rookie right-hander Nathan Karns (4-3), who took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning Wednesday against Toronto, will face Cleveland right-hander Cody Anderson (0-0) at Tropicana Field. Anderson pitched 72/3 scoreless innings against Tampa Bay in his major league debut last Sunday.