BOSTON (AP) — Rich Hill struck out a season-high 11 in seven shutout innings, and the Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-1 on Saturday for a rare series win against another AL East team.
Kiké Hernández hit a solo homer for Boston, which also beat Tampa Bay 9-8 on Friday night. J.D. Martinez and Bobby Dalbec each drove in two runs.
The last-place Red Sox (62-65) had dropped four in a row before the contending Rays arrived at Fenway Park. The Red Sox are 3-13-1 in series against AL East clubs this season.
Randy Arozarena hit an RBI single in the eighth to account for Tampa Bay’s only run. The Rays (69-57) are fighting for positioning in the AL wild-card standings.
The game took just 2 hours, 24 minutes.
“To be able to work quick and put the onus on the hitter,” Hill said of his game plan. “I think part of it, too, is the looming time clock that’s on the horizon, that everybody’s talking about. I feel like if we can, maybe, collectively as a whole work a little bit quicker throughout the league, maybe they won’t implement the pitch clock.
Making his fourth start after spending a month on the injured list with a sprained left knee, the 42-year-old Hill (6-5) allowed only three singles and walked one. He threw 71 of his 95 pitches for strikes, many in the low 70-mph range.
“It’s fun to watch,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “The hop and the breaking ball and the different shapes of the breaking balls. He knows how to pitch.”
John Schreiber worked 1 1/3 innings for his fifth save. He entered with runners on the corners and got Harold Ramírez to bounce back to the mound, ending the threat.
Rays manager Kevin Cash praised Hill’s creativity.
“Different delivery it seems like every third pitch,” Cash said.
Tampa Bay left-hander Jeffrey Springs (6-4) allowed five runs and eight hits in six innings. He was 3-0 with a 1.66 ERA in his previous four starts.
Red Sox second baseman Trevor Story went 1 for 3 with an infield single in his return after missing six weeks with a small fracture near his right wrist after getting hit by a pitch from Tampa Bay’s Corey Kluber on July 12.
The Red Sox jumped on Springs for four runs in the first; the first two coming on Martinez’s single halfway up the Green Monster. With two outs, Dalbec reached down and hit a soft liner up the middle for a two-run single.
Hernández led off the fourth with his shot into the second row of seats above the Monster. It was his sixth homer of the season.
Hill baffled the Rays early on, using a quick pace and mixing his cutter and soft curveball for six strikeouts in the initial three innings.
“That’s pitching. That’s kind of the art of it,” he said of his speed variance. “Change speeds, change arm angles, change eye levels, quick pitch, hesitation. … That’s one thing that I love about this sport and the position I play, being a pitcher, not a thrower. It makes it a lot of fun.”
Red Sox right fielder Alex Verdugo made a diving catch of Taylor Walls’ drive near the foul line to open the eighth.
RAYS ROSTER MOVES
Tampa Bay optioned lefty Ryan Yarbrough to Triple-A Durham and recalled lefty Garrett Cleavinger from the minors.
“Tough decision. I think Yarbs since the All-Star break has really helped us and put us in a position to win many games,” Cash said. “We’re in a spot where we’ve got to get some pitching here to help, whether it’s our starters or certainly our bullpen guys, who have been worked pretty heavily as of late.”
Yarbrough (1-8) took the loss Friday, giving up five runs and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings.
Rays: INF Brandon Lowe was not in the lineup after getting hit on the right elbow with a fastball from former teammate Michael Wacha and leaving Friday’s game early. … Cash said INF Wander Franco (fractured right hamate bone) took live BP and was doing well. … RHP Tyler Glasnow (recovering from Tommy John surgery) was expected to throw a live BP session at the team’s spring training complex Sunday.
Red Sox: RHP Tanner Houck (back inflammation) threw a bullpen, but he’s not expected to travel with the team on its upcoming trip. … 1B Eric Hosmer (back inflammation) is making progress, but he’ll also stay behind when the team heads to Minnesota for a series starting Monday.
Kluber (8-7, 4.20 ERA) starts Sunday’s series finale for the Rays against Boston right-hander Nick Pivetta (9-9, 4.24 ERA).