Clay Buchholz throws five shutout innings in return

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Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz made his first start since June 8 on Tuesday night versus the Rays.

And it went as well as anyone could have expected.

Featuring a steady 93 mph fastball and a very sharp changeup, Buchholz tossed five scoreless innings at Tropicana Field, yielding only three hits and one walk while striking out six Rays batters. He was lifted from the game at 74 pitches — 44 of which were strikes.

Boston’s bullpen did its part, with Craig Breslow, Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara combining to keep the shoutout alive in an eventual 2-0 victory.

Buchholz is now 10-0 with a 1.61 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 87 strikeouts in 89 1/3 total innings this season.

The first-place Red Sox are leading the second-place Rays by 8 1/2 games in the American League East.