Red Sox starter Nick Pivetta delivers a pitch to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first inning  Tuesday night in Pittsburgh. Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — Nick Pivetta pitched one-hit ball over seven shutout innings for his first win since June 24, and the Boston Red Sox scored four runs in the first inning on their way to a 5-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.

The Pirates’ only hit off Pivetta came on Ben Gamel’s two-out single in the first inning on a soft liner to left-center. Pivetta (9-9) struck out six and walked three, throwing 99 pitches and retiring his last nine batters.

In his previous eight starts, Pivetta had gone 0-4 with a 7.24 ERA.

“It was good,” Pivetta said. “I was in the strike zone the whole game, which was nice. They had a few walks, which was unfortunate but (catcher Reese McGuire) did a good job back there. We were able to communicate really well and I was able to be proficient in the strike zone.”

Pivetta’s outing came after the Red Sox allowed just five runs while taking 2 of 3 games from the AL East-leading New York Yankees over the weekend.

“Building on starts, I think it’s really important,” Pivetta said. “We just can feed off each other and compete against each other. I harped on this earlier (in the season) but the most important thing is putting up zeroes for your fellow starting pitchers so you can build off that and continue to move forward.”


The first six Red Sox batters reached in the first inning against Mitch Keller (4-9), who lasted just two innings. He was removed because of right shoulder fatigue. Keller wound up being charged with five runs, four earned, while allowing five hits and three walks with one strikeout.

Keller had pitched into the sixth inning in each of his previous seven starts.

“(Pitching coach Oscar Marin) and I were talking, and we didn’t like the way he was moving down the mound,” Pittsburgh Manager Derek Shelton said of Keller. “As good as his tempo’s been and the way he’s been attacking, he just did not look the same tonight. He said he didn’t have any pain, but we didn’t want to risk it.”

Alex Verdugo, Christian Arroyo and Eric Hosmer hit consecutive RBI singles and Kike Hernandez followed with a sacrifice fly in the first.

The Red Sox added another run in the second to make it 5-0 when center fielder Bryan Reynolds dropped Verdugo’s two-out fly ball for an error that enabled Tommy Pham to score.

Pham had two hits and scored two runs as the Red Sox won for the fourth time in five games.


However, the Red Sox were held hitless over the last seven innings by relievers Chase De Jong, Austin Brice and Manny Banuelos.

“We need to be better than that,” Boston Manager Alex Cora said. “The quality of at-bats got worse throughout the game. I’m not saying we got lucky because we put up some good at-bats early on, especially in the first inning, but we can’t stop. That way you get to the bullpen and all that, but at the end of the day, we’ll take it.”

The miscue ended Reynolds’ 190-game errorless streak. Reynolds also had the first ejection of his career in the eighth inning when he was tossed by home plate umpire Roberto Ortiz for arguing a called third strike.

Gamel immediately followed with a three-run double to draw the Pirates within 5-3. He had two of Pittsburgh’s three hits as the Pirates lost for the ninth time in 11 games.

John Schreiber got the final out in the eighth. Matt Barnes pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his third save in five chances.



Infielder/outfielder Hernandez returned to the Red Sox after a more than a two-month absence as he was activated from the 15-day injured list.

Hernandez had been out since June 8 with a strained right hip flexor. He revealed before Boston’s game with Pittsburgh that he also had an internal hematoma in an abdominal muscle on his right side drained in June.

“I’ve never missed that much time in my career and I kind of felt like I wasn’t part of the team in a way,” Hernandez said. “There wasn’t anything I could do to help the team, so it was very frustrating. I feel like I lost a full season but I’m glad to be healthy and glad to be back.”

At the time he went on the IL, Hernandez was hitting .209 with four home runs in 51 games.

Red Sox Manager Alex Cora said he will use Hernandez at both middle infield spots as well as center fielder. Hernandez was Boston’s primary center fielder last season and hit 20 homers when they reached the AL Championship Series before losing to Houston.

The Red Sox also activated infielder/outfielder Rob Refsnyder from the 15-day IL. He had been sidelined since July 30 with a strained right knee.

Infielder Yolmer Sanchez was designated for assignment to open spots on the 26-day and 40-man rosters. The Red Sox optioned outfielder Jaylin Davis to Triple-A Worcester on Sunday night to clear another roster spot.

• Hernandez started at shortstop in place of Xavier Bogaerts, who fouled a ball off his left foot during a weekend series against the New York Yankees. .. RHP Tanner Houck (lower back inflammation) has an issue with a disc in his lower back. He will undergo treatment the rest of this week then be re-examined by a spine specialist next week.

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