After breaking out for a season-high 17 runs on a season-high 21 hits on Saturday, the Red Sox needed just one run on four hits to secure a 1-0 series-clinching victory over the Orioles at Camden Yards on Sunday.
A 72-minute rain delay did not affect Rich Hill, who made his 22nd start of the year for Boston and scattered two hits, three walks, and one hit batsman to go along with seven strikeouts over five scoreless innings of work.
Hill retired the first five batters he faced before giving up a two-out single to Austin Hays in the bottom of the second. The veteran left-hander then worked his way around having runners on the corners with two outs in the third by getting Ryan Mountcastle to fly out to left field.
After stranding another base runner in the fourth, Hill plunked Rougned Odor and walked Robinson Chirinos to begin the fifth. But he did not falter as he got Ryan McKenna to pop out into foul territory before fanning Anthony Santander and Mountcastle back-to-back to end his day on a positive note.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 77 (45 strikes), Hill ultimately picked up his seventh winning decision of the season while lowering his ERA to 4.56. The 42-year-old hurler has now allowed two or fewer runs to score in three of his last five starts.
It may have helped that the Red Sox had jumped out to an early 1-0 lead before Hill even took the mound on Sunday. Matched up against Baltimore right-hander Kyle Bradish, Tommy Pham led off the game with a line-drive single. He then stole second base, moved up to third on an Alex Verdugo groundout, and scored on a 348-foot sacrifice fly of Xander Bogaerts.
That one run turned out to be all Boston needed, as it recorded just one hit from the second and eighth innings before Verdugo and Bogaerts each singled in the ninth.
While the Sox lineup was unable to provide any sort of insurance, the bullpen held it down in relief of Hill. John Schreiber yielded just one single in a scoreless sixth inning, Matt Strahm put a runner at second with no outs before retiring the next three Orioles he faced in the seventh, Garrett Whitlock worked his way around a two-out walk in an otherwise clean eighth, and Matt Barnes struck out two while retiring the side in order in the ninth.
Barnes notched his fifth save of the season as the Red Sox improved to 7-8 against the O’s and to 69-72 on the 2022 campaign as a whole. With only 21 regular season games remaining, they still trail the Blue Jays by 10 games for the third and final American League Wild Card spot.
Story day-to-day with left heel pain
Trevor Story left the game in the middle of the seventh inning after grounding into a 6-4-3 double play. He was later diagnosed with left heel pain and is considered day-to-day. Christian Arroyo took over for Story at second base and drew a walk in his only plate appearance.
Next up: Back to Boston
The Red Sox will an enjoy an off day on Monday before opening a quick two game series against the Yankees at Fenway Park on Tuesday. Right-hander Nick Pivetta is slated to start the opener for Boston. New York has yet to name a starter.
Regardless, first pitch on Tuesday night is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and TBS.
(Picture of Rich Hill: Greg Fiume/Getty Images)