ST. PETERSBURG -- Koji Uehara continues to be the perfect closer.
At some point, he will probably allow another baserunner. But in the meantime, the Red Sox will just keep enjoying the ride.
The right-hander worked a four-out save on Tuesday to preserve the Red Sox's 2-0 victory over the Rays.
Dating back to Aug. 17, Uehara has now retired the last 31 batters he's faced. That ties fellow Japanese pitcher Hideo Nomo for the club record, which he set in 2001.
"I have huge respect for him," Uehara said of Nomo. "He's somebody that I looked up to. He's on another level."
Actually, Uehara is the one on another level these days. He hasn't allowed an earned run over his past 31 2/3 innings, dating back to June 30.
Clay Buchholz made his return to action for the Red Sox on Tuesday, pitching for the first time since June 8, but he is well aware of what the closer had been doing in his absence.
"I've been watching, I promise," said Buchholz. "The guy is unbelievable. Unbelievable is the only word I can use to describe it. He's the best there is right now. It's fun to watch."
In 65 appearances this season, Uehara has a 1.10 ERA. He has 91 strikeouts in 65 2/3 innings.
"It's a very calm inning when he comes to the mound, and that was the case again tonight," said manager John Farrell.
Pedroia leads off for first time since 2009
ST. PETERSBURG -- For the first time since 2009, Dustin Pedroia was in the leadoff spot for Tuesday night's 2-0 win over the Rays.
With center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury likely sidelined for a couple of weeks, manager John Farrell is trying to find a combination that works.
Pedroia moved from third to first, while Shane Victorino stayed in the two-hole. David Ortiz and Mike Napoli each moved up one spot, hitting third and fourth, respectively.
"In Jacoby's absence, we felt like we needed a guy that would see a lot of pitches," Farrell said. "It might help Shane in that two-hole to see how pitchers are going to attack a right-handed hitter. It also gives us an opportunity to get David to the plate in the first inning. There's a number of things that went into putting Pedey in that leadoff spot. We felt like this was a chance to get our top four or five hitters in the top half of that lineup."
For whatever reason, Pedroia's numbers as a leadoff hitter (.253 average, .693 OPS in 320 at-bats) haven't been as good as the other places he's hit.
However, that could have just been a product of Pedroia happening to be in slumps when he was hitting first. He didn't seem troubled by the move at all.
"It doesn't change my approach or anybody else's," said Pedroia, who went 1-for-4 Tuesday. "I liked hitting leadoff. I hit there basically my whole life until my second year. I hit a lot in the Minor Leagues, first and second. My rookie year, I hit first a lot, and I hit there a little in '09."
Farrell consulted the second baseman before making the switch.
"In talking with Pedey before we did this, there was a little back and forth on it, and to his credit, he brought it out initially, and we talked a little bit about it yesterday," said Farrell. "For the reasons stated, this gives us a good look against a lefty."
"The one thing we've really worked hard at is maintaining some continuity, and if this is one that'll give us some continuity until Jacoby returns, we're certainly willing to stay the course," Farrell said.
Former Sox pitcher Lowe debuts as broadcaster
ST. PETERSBURG -- Dressed in a suit and tie, Derek Lowe reappeared in the Red Sox's clubhouse on Tuesday afternoon, eager to make his debut as a broadcaster.
One of the postseason heroes from Boston's historic 2004 team, Lowe will serve as a color analyst on NESN for the next three nights, working with play-by-play man Don Orsillo.
Lowe's solid Major League career ended in June when he was released by the Texas Rangers.
He made the two-hour drive from his home in Fort Myers, Fla., to work this series.
"I think it's a great opportunity to, first of all, see if you enjoy it," said Lowe. "I think it's something where I've been watching not only just the Red Sox, but baseball in general, so you kind of have a feel about what's going on. I think any time you get a chance to do something outside your comfort zone, you might as well try it and see if you like it, and if you do, try to pursue it at some point."
Considering he is still decompressing from his playing career, Lowe isn't ready to commit to full-time broadcasting just yet. However, he's always been comfortable speaking to the media, so it could be a natural transition.
"I think right now it's too early," said Lowe. "I just got done playing three months ago. To try to get into a situation where you're going to be gone all the time again might be too much. This is great. It's clearly an organization that I knew pretty well and to come out here and watch a big series will be great."
Lowe pitched for the Red Sox from 1997 to 2004 and had a 17-year Major League career.
Pedro Martinez, another rotation member from that 2004 team, was also in the clubhouse before the game and had a good time catching up with Lowe. In fact, Martinez, who is a special assistant to general manager Ben Cherington, was hoping to take the elevator up to the NESN broadcast booth at some point Tuesday night and do an inning with Orsillo and Lowe.
Martinez might also try his hand in the media by doing some work with TBS during the upcoming postseason. Curt Schilling, Kevin Millar, Gabe Kapler and Tim Wakefield are other members of Boston's 2004 champs who have made the transition to electronic media.
Much like Martinez, Lowe has enjoyed watching the resurgence of the Red Sox after a 69-win nightmare last season.
"All you have to say is everything as far as the differences," Lowe said. "I think what made this transition a lot easier is they weren't stuck with a lot of contracts. They got rid of all their contracts, so they were able to get four or five new guys. It's obviously working. They have great chemistry. You look at the Yankees series, they fell behind six or seven runs and found a way to come back. They're putting themselves in a great situation -- 7 1/2 up with 17 to go."