Houck throws 3-hitter in 2-0 win over Guardians for Boston’s 1st CG shutout at Fenway since 2017

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BOSTON (AP) — Tanner Houck pitched a three-hitter with nine strikeouts for Boston’s first complete-game shutout at Fenway Park in nearly seven years, and the Red Sox beat the Cleveland Guardians 2-0 on Wednesday night.

Connor Wong homered in the fourth, one inning after Boston scored its first run on a balk by Cleveland starter Ben Lively.

Houck (3-1) threw 69 of 94 pitches for strikes in his first career complete game, which took just 1 hour, 49 minutes. It was the fastest nine-inning game in the majors since Armando Galarraga’s near-perfect game for Detroit against Cleveland took 1:44 on June 2, 2010.

“I think this is one of those nights where you probably get one, maybe two of these a season, if you’re lucky,” said Houck, adding it was the best he’s ever felt on a major league mound. “It’s where you just go out there and you feel like you can do no wrong. You can throw no wrong pitch in any count. So, I truly feel blessed to go up there and just help this team win.”

Houck walked none and finished one short of his season high for strikeouts. The 27-year-old right-hander lowered his ERA to 1.35 after four starts in his fifth big league season.

“I don’t know if he could pitch much better than he did tonight,” Guardians manager Stephen Vogt said. “You’ve got to tip your cap. That was an outstanding performance by him. Every pitch, didn’t throw anything over the heart of the plate. I think the two pitches he did, we got hits on, but just tip your cap.”

It was Boston’s first complete-game shutout since Michael Wacha tossed a three-hitter in a 1-0 win at the Los Angeles Angels on June 6, 2022. No pitcher had accomplished the feat at home for the Red Sox since Brian Johnson threw a five-hitter against Seattle on May 27, 2017.

“Just throwing strikes with good stuff,” Boston manager Alex Cora said. “There was never a thought of going to the bullpen, to be honest with you. That was his game and whatever happens, happens. He was really good.”

Wong connected off Lively (0-1) with two outs in the fourth.

“Lively was outstanding as well,” Vogt said. “He threw the ball great, was efficient. Did his job, got us five. Couldn’t be more thrilled with the way Ben threw the ball. It was an outstanding, outstanding job by him.”

Lively, making his Guardians debut after signing as a free agent in December and then starting the season on the injured list with a viral illness, was called for a balk in the third with runners on second and third. It was the right-hander’s first balk since his rookie season of 2017 with Philadelphia.

“It just felt great getting out there and getting fired up again,” Lively said. “You see (Houck’s performance), you’re like, ‘Hell yeah, let’s go. Me and you are going toe to toe right now.’ It gets me fired up and ready to get back out there, too.”

After leaving Tuesday’s game with left knee discomfort, Rafael Devers was in the Boston lineup at designated hitter rather than third base. He went hitless in four at-bats with three strikeouts.

Steven Kwan was 0 for 4 for Cleveland, snapping his eight-game hitting streak.

“We win tomorrow and we save the series,” Cora said. “We all know we’re where at. The bullpen needed it, we all needed it. It was great.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Guardians: RHP Eli Morgan was placed on the 15-day injured list with right shoulder inflammation. RHP Wes Parsons was called up from Triple-A Columbus.

Red Sox: RHP Garrett Whitlock went on the 15-day IL with a left oblique strain. He exited Tuesday night’s start against Cleveland after four innings. LHP Joe Jacques was called up from Triple-A Worcester to take Whitlock’s spot on the roster.

UP NEXT

The teams wrap up their four-game series Thursday. RHP Carlos Carrasco (0-1, 3.55 ERA) is scheduled to start for Cleveland. In nine career appearances against the Red Sox, including seven starts, he is 1-4 with an 8.29 ERA.

Boston had not yet announced a starting pitcher.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

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