Rafael Devers collects 3 hits, drives in winning run as Red Sox battle back for 4-3 win over Rays

The Red Sox battled back to earn a series-opening win over the Rays on Monday night. Boston defeated Tampa Bay by a final score of 4-3 to put an end to a three-game losing streak and improve to 76-84 on the season.

Pending free-agent Rich Hill ended his season on a strong note. Making his 26th and final start of the year for the Sox, the veteran left-hander allowed three runs (one earned) on three hits and one walk to go along with six strikeouts over six quality innings of work.

All three of those Rays runs came by way of the long ball. After recording the first two outs of the first, Hill served up a solo shot to Wander Franco to get Tampa Bay on the board first. He proceeded to retire eight of the next nine batters he faced.

With two outs in the fourth, Hill got Harold Ramirez to hit a groundball in the direction of Rafael Devers at third base. Devers fielded the ball cleanly, but he made a poor throw to first base that forced Triston Casas off the bag. Ramirez reached safely as a result and former Boston farmhand Manuel Margot followed by cranking a two-run blast over the Green Monster off a first-pitch cutter from Hill.

Margot’s fourth homer of the season gave the Rays a 3-0 lead through four innings. Hill, for his part, settled back into a groove by sitting down seven of the last eight hitters he faced. The 42-year-old southpaw finished with 80 pitches (60 strikes) and induced 12 swings-and-misses. Though he did not factor into the decision, Hill brought his final ERA on the season down to 4.27.

Moments after Hill ended things in the top of the sixth, the Red Sox lineup finally got going in the bottom half of the inning. After being held in check by Rays starter Tyler Glasnow, Devers led off the sixth with a hard-hit double off Kevin Herget. Devers moved up to third base on a one-out single from Alex Verdugo. Both runners then scored when Christian Arroyo roped a two-run double down the left field line to cut the deficit to one.

Representing the possible tying run, Arroyo advanced to third on a Casas groundout and scored on an RBI double from Hernandez. The bats got back to work after John Schreiber took over for Hill out of the bullpen and faced the minimum in the top of the seventh.

To lead off the bottom half of the inning, Reese McGuire laced a ground-rule double down the right field line. McGuire moved up an additional 90 feet on a Tommy Pham groundout. Devers then came through with a sacrifice fly that was hit deep enough to left field to plate McGuire and give the Red Sox their first lead of the night at 4-3.

From there, Ryan Brasier made quick work of the Rays in the eighth before Matt Barnes avoided disaster in the ninth. After yielding a one-out triple to Franco, Barnes got Ramirez to hit a grounder towards Devers. Franco took off from third in an attempt to score the tying run, but he was instead caught in a rundown and tagged out by Yu Chang, who had come on as a defensive replacement.

Ramirez was able to advance to scoring position on the play, but Barnes got Margot to ground out to second to end it. Barnes was credited with his seventh save of the season while Schreiber picked up the win.

Offensively, Devers led the way by going 3-for-4 with his 42nd double of the year. Hernandez also went 2-for-4 with an RBI. As a team, the Red Sox went 3-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left seven runners on base.

Next up: Eovaldi vs. Springs

The Red Sox will look to secure a series victory on Tuesday by sending right-hander Nathan Eovaldi to the mound for the final time this season. The Rays will counter with an old friend in left-hander Jeffrey Springs.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Rafael Devers: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Abraham Almonte and Alex Verdugo both homer, Rich Hill fans 9 over 6 scoreless innings as Red Sox defeat Orioles, 3-1

In rather uneventful fashion, the Red Sox won their second straight over the Orioles on Wednesday night. Boston bested Baltimore by a final score of 3-1 to improve to 74-81 on the season.

Rich Hill, making his 25th start of the year, pitched well for the Sox. The veteran left-hander scattered five hits and one walk to go along with nine strikeouts over six scoreless innings of work.

The Red Sox provided Hill with an early lead. After Rafael Devers ripped a one-out ground-rule double off Orioles starter Dean Kremer, Alex Verdugo followed by lacing a run-scoring single to center field to get his side on the board first in the first inning.

Two innings later, Abraham Almonte took the fourth pitch he saw from Kremer and drilled a 421-foot solo shot to right field for his first home run in a Red Sox uniform.

Fast forward to the sixth, and Hill ended his night by retiring the final three batters he faced in order. The 42-year-old southpaw finished with exactly 100 pitches (67 strikes) and induced 15 swings-and-misses. He also picked up his eighth winning decision of the season while lowering his ERA to 4.41.

Shortly after Hill put an end to the top of the sixth, Verdugo led off the bottom half by sneaking a 331-foot liner past Pesky’s Pole for his 11th home run of the season. It left his bat at 102.6 mph and gave Boston a 3-0 lead heading into the seventh.

In relief of Hill, Ryan Brasier received the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen from manager Alex Cora. Brasier needed just 10 pitches to get through a scoreless seventh inning. Kaleb Ort, on the other hand, served up a solo homer to Robinson Chirinos to begin the eighth before settling down and retiring the next three Orioles he faced.

Matt Barnes was responsible for the ninth inning. The righty allowed two runners to reach base but ultimately held on to secure the 3-1 victory while also notching his sixth save of the year.

Next up: Eovaldi vs. Baumann in series finale

The Red Sox will look to take this four-game series from the Orioles on Thursday afternoon. Nathan Eovaldi, who last pitched on August 13, will be activated from the injured list to make his penultimate start of the season for Boston. Baltimore will counter with fellow right-hander Michael Baumann.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox get shut out for second time this month in 9-0 loss to Royals

The Red Sox failed to score a run in their loss to the Royals on Saturday afternoon. Boston fell to Kansas City, 9-0, at Fenway Park to drop to 70-75 on the season.

Rich Hill, making his 23rd start of the year for the Sox, was tagged for nearly half of those runs. The veteran left-hander surrendered four earned runs on eight hits and zero walks to go along with four strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings of work.

The Royals got the scoring started in the top of the third. After reaching base on a one-out single, Nate Eaton stole second and scored from there on an RBI single off the bat of MJ Melendez. Malendez also advanced to second before scoring on another RBI single from Salvadar Perez that gave Kansas City an early 2-0 lead.

Boston had a chance to respond right away in the latter half of the frame. Matched up against Royals starter Brady Singer, the bottom third of the Sox lineup filled the bases without recording an out. Despite getting that far, though, Tommy Pham popped out to the catcher, Rafael Devers struck out looking, and J.D. Martinez popped out into foul territory.

Hill, meanwhile, ran into more trouble in the fifth. After Bobby Witt Jr. drove in Melendez with an RBI single, Witt Jr. scored all the way from first on a Vinnie Pasquantino double that right fielder Alex Verdugo lost in the sun.

Pasquantino was the final batter Hill faced. The 42-year-old southpaw finished with a final pitch count of 81 (58 strikes) and was charged with his seventh loss of the season as his ERA rose to 4.70. He was given the hook in favor of Ryan Brasier, who needed just three pitches to record the final out of the fifth.

The sixth inning marked the major-league debut of relief prospect Franklin German. The right-hander failed to retire any of the four batters he faced, as he loaded the bases with no outs before yielding an RBI single to Nate Eaton. Eduard Bazardo was called upon to extinguish the flames, but he allowed all three runners he inherited to score on a Melendez force out and singles from Witt Jr. and Pasquantino.

German was tagged for four runs on two hits and two walks. Bazardo, on the other hand, worked his way around a leadoff double in the seventh before handing things over to Tyler Danish, who served up a leadoff double to Melendez and a two-out RBI single to Pasquantino to make it a 9-0 game in favor of Kansas City.

Following a 1-2-3 top of the ninth from Danish, the Red Sox went down quietly in the bottom half to seal their fifth shutout loss of the season and their second in the last 10 days.

Next up: Pivetta vs. Bubic in rubber match

The Red Sox will look to secure a series victory over the Royals on Sunday afternoon. Righty Nick Pivetta will get the start for Boston opposite lefty Kris Bubic for Kansas City.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Rich Hill strikes out 7 over 5 scoreless innings as Red Sox take series from Orioles with 1-0 win

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)

Triston Casas’ first career homer not enough as Red Sox drop second straight to Rays, 8-4

The Red Sox’ season-long struggles against the Rays continued on Tuesday night. Boston dropped its second straight to Tampa Bay by a final score of 7-2 to fall to 67-70 on the season.

Rich Hill, making his 21st start of the year for the Sox, could not replicate the same kind of performance he enjoyed the last time he faced the Rays at Fenway Park. This time around, the veteran left-hander got rocked for five runs on nine hits, one walk, and three strikeouts over four innings of work.

Tampa Bay got to Hill before he could even record an out. Yandy Diaz led off the first inning with a hard-hit double and Manuel Margot followed with a line-drive single. With runners on the corners, Randy Arozarena clobbered a 419-foot home run to dead center field to give the Rays a 3-0 lead out of the gate.

Boston responded with two runs in the top of the second. After Rays opener J.T. Chargois yielded a two-out single to Christian Arroyo. That brought Triston Casas to the plate, and the top prospect came through by crushing the first home run of his big-league career.

On a 3-2, 95 mph four-seamer from Chargois that was up and in, Casas deposited a 371-foot two-run blast into the right field seats. The milestone homer left his bat at 96.7 mph.

Hill, meanwhile, ran into more trouble in the third inning as the Rays lineup turned over for the second time. Margot led off with a bunt single and then went from first to third on an Arozarena double. Harold Ramirez followed by plating both runners on a single to left field, though he was thrown out between first and second base. Hill gave up two more hits in the inning, but he did not allow either run to score. He then ended his night by retiring the side in order in the fourth.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 64 (46 strikes), Hill managed to induce just eight swings-and-misses. The 42-year-old southpaw was charged with his sixth loss of the season while raising hie ERA to 4.79.

In relief of Hill, Eduard Bazardo received the first call out of the Boston bullpen from manager Alex Cora. The hard-throwing righty punched out a pair in a scoreless fifth inning, but served up back-to-back solo shots to Christian Bethancourt and Yu Chang in the sixth. Tyler Danish also surrendered an RBI double to Francisco Mejia in the seventh.

In the eighth, Reese McGuire drew a one-out walk off old friend Jalen Beeks. Moments after McGuire reached first base, Tommy Pham clubbed a 421-foot home run to left-center field. His fifth big fly in a Red Sox uniform had an exit velocity of 106 mph and cut the Rays’ lead to four runs.

Down to their final three outs in the ninth following a scoreless bottom of the eighth from Ryan Brasier, the Sox went down quietly against Jason Adam. Trevor Story struck out, Arroyo popped out into foul territory, and Casas fanned to seal an 8-4 defeat.

With the loss, the Red Sox are now 4-11 against the Rays this season and 18-38 against divisional opponents.

Bogaerts leaves early due to back spasms as multi-hit streak ends

Xander Bogaerts was pulled in the middle of the seventh inning with back spasms. He had grounded into a double play in the top of the sixth and appeared to be in some discomfort while running towards first base. Enrique Hernandez replaced Bogaerts at shortstop while Rob Refsnyder took over in center field.

Prior to being pulled, Bogaerts had gone 0-for-3 with a strikeout. So his nine-game multi-hit streak has come to an end. He will not play on Wednesday.

Next up: Pivetta vs. Springs in finale

The Red Sox will look to avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of the Rays on Wednesday night. Despite leaving his last start early because of a left calf contusion, right-hander Nick Pivetta will take the mound for Boston. On the other side, it will be left-hander Jeffrey Springs toeing the rubber for Tampa Bay.

First pitch from Tropicana Field is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Triston Casas: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Alex Verdugo homers and Michael Wacha deals, but Red Sox blow late lead in 4-3 loss to Rays

The Red Sox saw their five-game winning streak come to an end at the hands of the Rays on Monday night. Boston fell to Tampa Bay at Tropicana Field by a final score of 4-3 to drop to 67-69 on the season.

Alex Verdugo got the Sox on the board right away in the first inning. With one out and the bases empty, Verdugo clubbed a 368-foot solo shot to right field off Rays starter Luis Patino for his ninth home run of the year. It left his bat at a blistering 106.5 mph.

Michael Wacha, making his 18th start of the year for Boston, gave that run right back in the latter half of the first. Former Red Sox prospect Manuel Margot led off with a line-drive single. He then went from first to third on a David Peralta base hit and scored on a blooper of an RBI single from Harold Ramirez to tie things up at one run apiece.

That stalemate did not last long, though, as the Red Sox responded with two more runs in the third. With two outs and runners on first and second after Tommy Pham and Verdugo each drew a walk, Rafael Devers and Trevor Story went back-to-back on a pair of run-scoring hits. Devers advanced to third base on Story’s 22nd double of the year, but was stranded there after Triston Casas popped out to end the inning.

Wacha, meanwhile, settled in and spun three consecutive scoreless frames before running into some trouble in the fifth. After reaching base on a leadoff single, Jose Siri scored all the way from first on a 358-foot double off the bat of Randy Arozarena.

Franchy Cordero had been tracking that fly ball in left field, but he went down awkwardly after colliding with and getting his right cleat caught in the wall’s padding. Cordero remained on the ground in visible pain before manager Alex Cora and team trainers came out to check on him. Unable to put any weight on his right foot, Cordero was carted off and replaced in left field by Rob Refsnyder. He was later diagnosed with a right ankle sprain and will undergo an MRI on Tuesday.

With Siri scoring on Arozarena’s double, Tampa Bay had cut the deficit down to one run at 3-2. But Wacha did not buckle and wound up retiring the final five batters he faced through the end of the sixth. The veteran right-hander gave up just the two runs on seven hits, zero walks, and seven strikeouts over six quality innings of work.

While Wacha did not factor into Monday’s decision, he did reach a personal milestone. By punching out Taylor Walls to end the sixth, the 31-year-old recorded the 1,000th strikeout of his major-league career.

In relief of Wacha, Jeurys Familia received the first call out of the Boston bullpen from Cora. With the likes of Garrett Whitlock and John Schreiber unavailable after a busy weekend, Familia struggled in a high-leverage spot in the seventh.

After a questionable hit-by-pitch of the pinch-hitting Vidal Brujan, who stole second base and moved up to third on a groundout, Familia surrendered a game-tying double to Margot. He was then pulled in favor of Zack Kelly, who got the second out of the inning but could not escape before allowing the go-ahead run to score on a Peralta RBI double down the right field line.

Kelly bounced back by tossing a 1-2-3 eighth inning, giving the Red Sox a chance to tie it in the ninth. With two outs and Verdugo at second base representing the tying run, Xander Bogaerts got ahead in the count at 2-0 before striking out looking on a 99 mph heater at the bottom of the zone.

Despite coming up short there, Bogaerts made history by going 2-for-5, thus extending his multi-game hitting streak to nine consecutive games. He becomes the fourth player in Red Sox history to accomplish the feat, joining the likes of Kevin Youkilis (2009), Jim Rice (1978), and Roy Johnson (1934).

All told, the Red Sox went 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base as a team. With Monday’s loss, they are now 4-10 against the Rays this season and 18-37 against divisional opponents.

Next up: Hill vs. Rasmussen

The Red Sox will look to bounce back against the Rays on Tuesday night. Veteran left-hander Rich Hill will get the start for Boston while right-hander Drew Rasmussen will do the same for Tampa Bay.

First pitch from Tropicana Field is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Rich Hill dominates with 11 strikeouts over 7 scoreless innings as Red Sox take series from Rays with 5-1 victory

The Red Sox secured a series victory over the Rays on Saturday afternoon. Boston defeated Tampa Bay by a final score of 5-1 at Fenway Park to improve to 62-65 on the season.

Rich Hill, making his 19th start of the year for the Sox, was just as masterful as he was quick. The veteran left-hander scattered just three hits and one walk to go along with a season-high 11 strikeouts over seven scoreless innings of work.

After taking a perfect game into the third inning, Hill gave up a leadoff infield single to Yu Chang. He proceeded to strand Chang at first base by striking out the side on 16 pitches. The lefty yielded another base hit to Randy Arozarena in the fourth. Arozarena advanced into scoring position with two outs by stealing second base, but Hill stranded him there by retiring Isaac Paredes.

From there, Hill sat down nine of the final 11 Rays hitters he faced. He ended his outing with an emphatic three-pitch strikeout of Chang. Finishing with a final pitch count of 95 (71 strikes), the 42-year-old southpaw induced 12 total swings-and-misses. He also picked up his sixth win of the season while lowering his ERA to 4.32.

By the time Hill recorded the final out of the seventh, the Red Sox were already in possession of a 5-0 lead. Four of those runs came right away in the bottom of the first inning, when they sent all nine hitters to the plate against Rays starter (and old friend) Jeffrey Springs.

Tommy Pham set the tone with a leadoff single that left his bat at 103.8 mph. Alex Verdugo followed with a hard-hit double that put runners at second and third for J.D. Martinez. Martinez came through with a two-run single off the Green Monster to get Boston on the board first.

Springs then recorded the first two outs of the inning, but ran into more trouble when Trevor Story reached base on an infield single. After Enrique Hernandez drew a walk to load the bases, Bobby Dalbec delivered with another two-run single to center field.

Fast forward all the way to the fourth inning, and Hernandez got the best of Springs again by cranking a 366-foot leadoff home run over the Green Monster to make it a 5-0 game. Hernandez’s sixth homer of the season left his bat at 104 mph.

As was the case on Friday night, things once again got interesting for Boston in the eighth inning. Jeurys Familia took over for Hill and recorded the first two outs of the frame on 11 pitches. He then gave up three straight hits, including an RBI single from Randy Arozarena.

That sequence of events prompted Red Sox manager Alex Cora go back to the bullpen to call upon John Schreiber. Schreiber in turn, got the final out of the eighth and worked his way around a one-out walk in the ninth to lock up the win and notch his fifth save of the year.

With the win, the Red Sox now trail the Blue Jays by seven games for the third and final American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: Pivetta goes for sweep

The Red Sox will look to complete a three-game weekend sweep of the Rays on Sunday afternoon. Boston will turn to right-hander Nick Pivetta while Tampa Bay will go with fellow righty Corey Kluber.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Rich Hill: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Christian Arroyo and Alex Verdugo combine for 6 hits as Red Sox get back to .500 with 8-3 victory over Pirates

The Red Sox once again took care of business against the Pirates on Wednesday night. Boston defeated Pittsburgh by a final score of 8-3 to take its third straight series and improve to 59-59 on the season.

Rich Hill made his 18th start of the season for the Sox and turned in a solid outing despite struggling out of the gate. The veteran left-hander allowed two runs on three hits and zero walks to go along with four strikeouts over five innings of work.

Both of those Pirates runs came right away in the bottom of the first, when Hill followed a leadoff single from Kevin Newman by serving up a 416-foot two-run home run to Bryan Reynolds.

That put the Red Sox in an early 2-0 hole, but they quickly responded against opposing starter Roansy Contreras in the top of the second. Alex Verdugo led off with a single and J.D. Martinez followed by drawing a four-pitch walk. After Eric Hosmer flew out, Christian Arroyo stayed hot by ripping a two-run double to right-center field past a sprawling Reynolds. Arroyo’s ninth double of the season drove in both Verdugo and Martinez to knot things up at two runs apiece.

Reese McGuire kept the line moving with a one-out single that put runners on the corners for Enrique Hernandez, who collected his second RBI in as many games by plating Arroyo on a softly-hit single through the right side of the infield. Rafael Devers was intentionally walked with two outs to fill the bases for Xander Bogaerts, who struck out on four pitches to end the inning, but not before Boston had taken its first lead of the night at 3-2.

Hill, meanwhile, settled in nicely by retiring nine straight batters from the middle of the second through the end of the fourth. He gave up a single to Rodolfo Castro in the fifth, but ended his night on a positive note by sitting down the final three Pirates he faced.

Finishing with an efficient pitch count of 57 (43 strikes), Hill induced three swings-and-misses with his four-seamer and three more with his slider. The 42-year-old hurler also picked up his fifth win of the season while lowering his ERA to 4.68.

Moments before Hill had recorded the final out of the fifth inning, the Red Sox tacked on additional run in the top half of the frame. Bogaerts, after reaching base via a one-out single off Contreras, scored all the way from first on an RBI double down the right field line off the bat of Verdugo.

Taking a 4-2 lead into the sixth inning, Ryan Brasier received the first call out of the Boston bullpen from manager Alex Cora. Brasier punched out the side on 14 pitches before making way for Hirokazu Sawamura, who faced the minimum in a scoreless bottom of the seventh.

In the eighth, Verdugo led off another inning with a hard-hit single. Back-to-back one-out singles from Hosmer and Arroyo allowed Verdugo to move up to third base. The pinch-hitting Rob Refsnyder drove him in by drawing a bases-loaded walk off Pirates reliever Eric Stout, thus giving the Red Sox a 5-2 lead.

Sawamura picked up where he left off by retiring the side in order in the eighth. The same can be said for Arroyo, who knocked in his third run of the night on a bases-loaded single in the top of the ninth.

Kevin Plawecki, who took over behind the plate for McGuire, made the most of his first and only at-bat of the night by driving in a pair on a softly-hit two-run single to shallow right field.

That sequence of events saw the Red Sox jump out to a commanding 8-2 advantage. It also afforded them the opportunity to have veteran reliever Jeurys Familia make his club debut. Signed to a minor-league deal earlier this month, Familia had his contract selected from Triple-A Worcester on Saturday.

So it took four days for Familia to make his first appearance for Boston. The former All-Star closer surrendered hits to three of the first four Pirates he faced, including an RBI single from Ben Gamel.

Familia did not allow the Pirates to get any closer than that, though, as he got Kevin Padlo to ground out before punching out Castro on six pitches to secure an 8-3 victory for the Red Sox.

All told, Verdugo and Arroyo led the way offensively by combining for six hits (two doubles), four RBIs, four runs scored. Verdugo and Martinez combined to draw five walks as well.

Next up: Sox look to break out the brooms

The Red Sox will go for a three-game sweep over the Pirates on Thursday night. They last swept an opponent in a multi-game series on June 26, when they did so against the Guardians.

Rookie right-hander Josh Winckowski will get the ball for Boston after Thursday’s scheduled starter — Nathan Eovaldi — was scratched with a sore trap muscle. Fellow righty J.T. Brubaker is expected to take the mound for Pittsburgh.

First pitch from PNC Park is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.

(Picture of Christian Arroyo: Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Red Sox place Rich Hill on 15-day injured list due to left knee sprain, recall Phillips Valdez from Triple-A Worcester

The Red Sox have placed left-hander Rich Hill on the 15-day injured list due to a left knee sprain, the club announced prior to taking on the Cubs on Saturday. In a corresponding move, right-handed reliever Phillips Valdez has been recalled from Triple-A Worcester.

Hill made his 15th start of the season for the Sox at Wrigley Field on Friday afternoon. The veteran southpaw was cruising through four scoreless innings before things took a turn for the worst in the bottom half of the fifth. After allowing two runs and two of the first four batters he faced in the frame to reach base, Hill issued a four-pitch walk to Cubs catcher Wilson Contreras.

On the very first pitch he threw to Contreras, Hill said he felt his left knee pop. He remained in the game, but quickly exited after filling the bases on that walk of Contreras, a single, and a hit batsman. The 42-year-old was later diagnosed with a left knee sprain that will now keep him sidelined for the next 15 days at the very least.

In his 15 starts for Boston this year, Hill has posted a 4.20 ERA with 58 strikeouts to 23 walks over 70 2/3 innings of work. The Milton, Mass. native becomes the latest Red Sox starter to hit the injured list, joining the likes of Garrett Whitlock (who will likely return as a reliever) and Nathan Eovaldi.

It remains to be seen who will take Hill’s spot in the Sox’ starting rotation while the lefty is out of action. When speaking with reporters (including WEEI’s Rob Bradford) on Saturday, manager Alex Cora indicated that a top prospect such as Brayan Bello — who started for Triple-A Worcester on Friday — could be in play.

“There’s a lot of guys in the mix for a lot of stuff here, now,” Cora said. “All of a sudden, there’s a lot of stuff health-wise that is going on. We’ve been talking about those guys the whole season. Let’s see what happens in the upcoming days.”

Valdez, meanwhile, joins the Red Sox for the fourth time this season and will provide the club with a fresh bullpen arm for Saturday’s bout with the Cubs. With Connor Seabold slated to start Sunday’s series finale, the Sox will have to make another move in order to add the rookie hurler to the active roster.

(Picture of Rich Hill: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox blow 4-run lead, drop opener to Cubs, 6-5, as Rich Hill exits due to knee sprain

To kick off their first trip to Wrigley Field since 2012, the Red Sox blew a four-run lead and ultimately fell to the Cubs by a final score of 5-6 on Friday afternoon. Boston has now lost three of its last four games to drop to 43-34 on the season.

Four of the Sox’ first five runs came within the first two innings of Friday’s contest. Matched up against Cubs starter Adrian Sampson, Jarren Duran led the game off by crushing the very first pitch he saw 417 feet to dead center field for his first home run of the year.

An inning later, Trevor Story, Franchy Cordero, and Christian Vazquez all reached base with no outs to leave them loaded for Jackie Bradley Jr. Bradley Jr., in turn, laced a bases-clearing, three-run double to the right-center field gap to give his side an early 4-0 lead.

That put Rich Hill, who had already tossed a scoreless first inning, in a pretty encouraging position. Making his 15th start of the season for Boston, Hill got through four innings without giving up a run but ran into some trouble in the fifth.

The veteran left-hander issued a leadoff walk to P.J. Higgins that was immediately followed by a run-scoring triple off the bat of Nelson Velazquez. One batter later, Velazquez scored on an RBI groundout from Christopher Morel.

Hill then issued another free pass to Wilson Contreras, and it was during that plate appearance when he felt his left knee pop. Despite that feeling, Hill stayed in and pitched. But he proceeded to load the bases on a single and hit batsman. That prompted the Red Sox to have Hill leave the game due to what they later diagnosed as a left knee sprain.

Tyler Danish had already been warming up in the Boston bullpen, and so he was called upon to take over for the injured starter. Danish officially closed the book on Hill’s outing by walking in a run that cut Chicago’s deficit to 4-3. He then got Alfonso Rivas to fly out to avoid any further damage.

Hill’s final line (3 earned runs on three hits, four walks, one hit batsman, and three strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings) was not indicative of how well he pitched. It remains to be seen if the 42-year-old will require a trip to the injured list on account of his sprained knee.

While they saw their lead trimmed down to just one run, the Sox did respond in their half of the sixth. With two outs and the bases loaded, Duran ripped a single to center field that plated Story. Vazquez also attempted to score on the play but was instead gunned down at home by Rafael Ortega. And so the Red Sox had to settle for a 5-3 lead, which evidently did not last long.

That being the case because after quickly recording the first two outs of the bottom of the sixth, Hansel Robles walked Simmons and then served up a game-tying, two-run home run to Christopher Morel. Robles remained in the game and loaded the bases before getting the hook in favor of Jake Diekman.

Diekman proceeded to spike a wild pitch in the dirt that got past Vazquez and allowed Contreras to score from third to give the Cubs their first lead of the day at 6-5.

From that point forward, Hirokazu Sawamura pitched admirably out of the Boston ‘pen, but so did Scott Effross, Chris Martin, and David Robertson for Chicago.

Red Sox hitters reached base just one time over the final three innings of Friday’s loss. After Martin stranded Alex Verdugo by striking out the side in the eighth, Robertson slammed the door in the ninth and earned his 10th save of the season by doing so.

All told, the Sox lineup went a collective 2-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left six runners on base as a team. The Sox bullpen, meanwhile, allowed six walks in just 3 1/3 innings of work.

Next up: Winckowski vs. Mills

As the Red Sox look to avoid their second straight series loss, they will turn to rookie right-hander Josh Winckowski to get the start on Saturday night. The Cubs will counter with fellow righty Alec Mills.

First pitch from Wrigley Field is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. eastern time on FOX.

(Picture of Rich Hill:  Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)