Kevin McAvoy knew he was six outs away from a no-hitter as he took the mound in the bottom of the eighth inning. But after his bid for history ended two pitches into the frame, he quickly switched his focus to what mattered most -- winning the game.
The right-handed Boston prospect still matched the longest outing of his career, allowing two hits over eight innings as Double-A Portland blanked Richmond, 5-0, on Tuesday night at The Diamond. McAvoy tied his season high with seven strikeouts, allowing one earned run or fewer for the fifth time in six Double-A starts.
Video: Portland's McAvoy notches his seventh K
"Going into the eighth, I knew that I was getting close," he said. "I put a little something extra on those first two pitches to [Hunter Cole, who led off the eighth]. He caught up to that second one and punched it through. After that, it was just back to work. At that point, I wanted to get through that eighth. To me, fighting through that inning and completing it was more of an accomplishment for me."
McAvoy (5-6) issued a walk to Myles Schroder in the first and Caleb Gindl in the second. Second baseman Josh Tobias' fielding error allowed K.C. Hobson to reach later in the frame, which proved to be Richmond's last baserunner until Cole grounded his single into left field. In between, the 24-year-old retired 16 straight while notching six punchouts.
Video: Richmond's Cole singles to break up the no-no
"It was a lot of fun tonight. I was just out there trying to make pitches," McAvoy said. "I was on a good page with [catcher Jordan Procyshen], which made things much easier. There was no [shaking off] tonight and we had a good pace throughout. I was working in and out, up and down and just got into a groove."
Gameday box score
The Bryant University product's scoreless effort was put in jeopardy in the eighth. After whiffing Hobson for the first out, Brandon Bednar singled to left. Following a flyout and a wild pitch that moved the runners into scoring position, McAvoy fanned Schroder to finish off his 102-pitch effort.
"The results were nice to see, but so was the way I was attacking pitch to pitch," said the native of Syracuse, N.Y. "I'm trying to break down every at-bat instead of looking too far ahead. Early on, your goal is to get yourself into the sixth or seventh inning, but I'm trying to take a step back and think about every pitch. Each one has value and that's helped me a lot lately."
McAvoy has won four of his last five decisions while posting a 1.66 ERA with the Sea Dogs. The 2014 fourth-round Draft pick allowed one hit over five scoreless innings in a rehab assignment for Class A Short Season Lowell on July 28. He was placed on the disabled list on July 15 with back soreness.
Boston's No. 26 prospect Jake Cosart worked around a pair of walks while striking out two in the ninth to complete Portland's 10th shutout of the season.
Video: Portland's Chavis powers out his 11th homer
Michael Chavis belted a two-run homer, his 11th with Portland and 28th overall. The third-ranked Red Sox prospect is tied for second in the Minors in home runs with Reno's Christian Walker, the D-backs' No. 27 prospect. His 84 RBIs rank fourth overall.
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Richmond starter Tyler Herb (1-1) allowed three unearned runs on three hits and two walks while striking out seven over seven innings.