TORONTO -- Rich Hill spent most of this season in Triple-A at Syracuse and Pawtucket.
After the Washington Nationals released the left-hander from their Syracuse affiliate, he made two starts with the independent Long Island Ducks before landing with Pawtucket, the Boston Red Sox affiliate.
On Sunday, the 35-year-old made his presence felt in the American League East race.
Hill (1-0) struck out 10 batters over seven innings as he allowed seven hits and three runs and the out-of-contention Red Sox came back to defeat the first-place Toronto Blue Jays 4-3.
"I can't say enough about what he did today," Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo said. "He had a tiny little hiccup there where he gave up a couple of runs but he rebounded. He retired 16 of 18 and gave us a chance to maneuver in the bullpen."
The Blue Jays scored three runs in the second inning, two on a home run by catcher Dioner Navarro.
"It's tough when you see guys you haven't seen all year," Navarro said. "He did a great job."
The Red Sox tied the game with a run in the fourth and two in the fifth, and they won it in the eighth on a sacrifice fly center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. with an assist to a bad hop on the throw from the outfield.
The unearned run was charged to left-hander Brett Cecil (3-5), who had his 26-inning scoreless streak ended. Cecil made the error on a squibber hit by Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval to start the eighth inning, and right-hander Mark Lowe took his place, allowing a single by catcher Sandy Leon and Bradley's sacrifice fly.
As a result, Hill earned his first major-league win since July 14, 2013, and his first as a starter since June 19, 2009.
It was his second start for Boston. He held Tampa Bay to one hit and no runs and also struck out 10 in a no-decision on Sept. 13.
"He keeps guys off-balance, he's got fastball command, he's got two, sometimes three, secondary pitches that he can throw for a strike at any time and he's comfortable and confident," Lovullo said. "It's something you don't expect from somebody that resurrected his career as a starter."
"We did a good job mixing in the changeup around the fourth inning," Hill said. "Sandy did such a great job back there again today."
"He's been really special these past two outings," Bradley said of Hill. "It's fun playing behind him. He's keeping other teams off-balance, he's making the pitches when he needs to and he's obviously given us a chance to win ball games."
In winning the rubber match of the three-game series, the Red Sox (71-77) took the season series with the Blue Jays 10-9.
The Blue Jays (85-64) entered the game with a 3 1/2-game lead over the second-place New York Yankees in the American League East.
Left-hander Robbie Ross Jr. pitched the ninth to earn his fourth save of the season, despite allowing a two-out double to pinch hitter Russell Martin.
Blue Jays left-hander Mark Buehrle allowed eight hits, two walks and three runs while striking out one in six innings.
Navarro's fourth homer of the season in the second came with one out after designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion led off with a single.
Center fielder Kevin Pillar followed the homer with a bunt single and shortstop Ryan Goins singled. Left fielder Ben Revere hit a two-out RBI single.
The Red Sox scored a run in the fourth on a throwing error by Buehrle, the first of three Blue Jays' errors.
Shortstop Xander Bogaerts led off with an infield single to Goins, who made a fine diving play but was unable to make the throw.
Bogaerts came around to score on a groundout to first by designated hitter David Ortiz. Bogaerts continued running to third as the out was made. Buehrle, who took the toss at the bag from first baseman Chris Colabello, made an errant throw to third and Bogaerts scored.
"I don't think it was a great game defensively by a lot of us," Buehrle said. "We had some double plays that could have been turned and me making that throw. Cecil didn't field the ball. It wasn't a very good game overall defensively. But we've been playing outstanding defense. So we're OK."
"Our defense has been great lately," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "It's tough to complain about our defense the last couple of months. ...I don't think we're going to worry about it."
The Red Sox tied the game at 3 in the fifth on a two-run, two-out single by first baseman Travis Shaw.
Bradley led off with a single and was forced at second by right fielder Mookie Betts. Bogaerts singled with two out and Ortiz walked to load the bases for Shaw.
NOTES: Red Sox 3B Pedro Sandoval returned to the lineup Sunday after missing the first two games of the series because of illness. ... The Blue Jays lost when leading after eight innings for the first time this season Saturday, when the Red Sox scored five ninth-inning runs for a 7-6 victory. It was Boston's first win of the season when trailing after eight innings. ... The Blue Jays open a three-game series with the New York Yankees on Monday at Rogers Centre that could be pivotal in deciding the American League East. LHP David Price (16-5, 2.42 ERA) will open for the Blue Jays against Yankees RHP Adam Warren (6-6, 3.33 ERA). ... The Red Sox open a four-game series against Tampa Bay on Monday at Fenway Park and will start LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (9-6, 3.94 ERA) against Rays RHP Chris Archer (12-12, 2.95).