BOSTON -- Rich Hill's comeback as a starter added another chapter of stunning dominance on Friday night at Fenway, as the lefty fired a two-hit shutout that included 10 strikeouts to lead the Red Sox to a 7-0 victory over the Orioles.
The gem ended in spectacular fashion, as right fielder Mookie Betts jumped over the Red Sox's bullpen wall in right-center to take a home run away from Chris Davis. With the Astros losing to the Rangers, the Orioles remain 3 1/2 games behind Houston for the second American League Wild Card spot.
"I thought it was actually in the seats," Hill said. "I thought it was a little bit deeper. When he did catch it, I caught a glimpse of my reaction on TV. That was probably the best catch I've ever seen."
Until two weeks ago, Hill hadn't started a Major League game in six years, back when he was with Baltimore. In his three starts since entering Boston's rotation, Hill is 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA. In addition, Hill has struck out 10 in all three outings -- the first pitcher in Red Sox history to do that in his first three starts for the club. It was the second shutout of Hill's career, and first since 2006. It was his third complete game, but just the second time he's pitched nine innings.
"For a guy that has resurrected his career in the way that he has, it's very, very impressive," said Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo. "You're starting to get the feel that this is a little bit of a habit."
The Red Sox, backed by a two-run double by David Ortiz, scored three in the sixth to take a 4-0 lead.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Bogaerts nearly laps Pedroia: In a thrilling play for the Fenway faithful, Xander Bogaerts was trailing Dustin Pedroia on Ortiz's double to right in the sixth, and the two players scored almost simultaneously to beat the relay throw from O's first baseman Davis. Pedroia dove headfirst into home, and Bogaerts slid in right after him. More >
"I've seen that in movies, two guys dive and they're safe," Bogaerts said. "That was a pretty nice one."
Relay ruins rally: With two on and two outs in the bottom of the third, Bogaerts smoked a 3-2 offering from Gausman off the Green Monster. The shot drove Betts in from second base, but Steve Pearce threw to shortstop J.J. Hardy, who relayed home to Caleb Joseph in time to cut down Pedroia, who had tried to score all the way from first base. It was the Orioles' league leading 44th outfield assist on the year.
Ortiz passes Pujols: Ortiz clocked three doubles to give him 581 for his career, passing Albert Pujols for 19th on the all-time list.
Hidden ball trick: With two outs in the bottom of the fifth, Gausman uncorked a wild pitch to Betts on a 1-0 count. Joseph could not immediately find the ball, which kicked off to the right, and after initially stopping midway down the line, Brock Holt made a break for home. Gausman had to retrieve the ball himself and by the time he was able to get it to it, the run had crossed and the Orioles were trailing by two and spiraling downward.
"I think if both knees were healthy I might have cut him off with a good form tackle," -- Red Sox third-base coach Brian Butterfield, on not having time to hold Bogaerts on the wild sequence in the sixth
"You don't see many of those hammer curveballs anymore, but he's got one. I remember catching it a few years ago when he was with us. It's a really big curveball. So when it comes out of the same slot [as his fastball] you're thinking there's no way possible that it's going to be a strike. Then it just comes down like a bowling ball. Before you know it, it's right in the middle of the plate," -- Orioles catcher Joseph, on why Hill was so effective
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Hill is the first pitcher since 1900 to make his season debut in September or later and strike out 10 in his first three games.
With two strikeouts on the night, Baltimore's Davis matched his career high with 199 in a season, first done in 2013. The Major League leader with 43 home runs also has the most strikeouts.
WHAT'S NEXT Orioles:Wei-Yin Chen (10-7, 3.36 ERA) will be looking to notch his third straight win on Saturday at 4:05 p.m. ET, having gone seven innings in each of his last two starts. It will be Chen's fourth start of the season vs. Boston and second at Fenway, where he allowed a season-high five walks over 4 1/3 innings in an April loss.
Red Sox: Lefty Craig Breslow, a veteran of 522 Major League appearances, will make his first career start in Saturday's game. Breslow's career-long appearance was on Sept. 20, 2005, when he threw 3 1/3 innings and 62 pitches.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and listen to his podcast.
Craig Forde is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.