It has been a season of puzzling contrasts for Drew Hutchison. When he’s been bad, he has been very, very bad and when he’s been good, he’s never been as good as he was on Wednesday night.

Hutchison allowed just one hit over 8.2 innings against one of the most potent lineups in baseball as the Blue Jays rebounded from a 9-3 drubbing on Tuesday for a 5-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

After erasing the first four men Hutchison faced in the game, Chris Davis tagged him for an opposite-field solo home run in the second inning. It was the only hit the Orioles would manage against him all evening and the only base runner until Nick Markakis walked with two out in the ninth inning.

Coming off a string of three subpar outings in his past four, in which Hutchison had surrendered 18 earned runs over 17.2 innings, Hutchison was dominant, relying on impeccable fastball command to put him in position to mix in his breaking pitches. After the ninth-inning walk, manager John Gibbons went to closer Casey Janssen to protect all the good work that Hutchison had provided and get the final out.

Earlier this season, Hutchison’s home-road splits had been curiously skewed toward success on the road versus disaster at home.

“Absolutely, you want to be as consistent as possible and, as a competitor, you want to be consistent every time,” said Hutchison. “So when you’re not, it is frustrating, but you know you’re not going to be great every time out. The key is that on the nights when you’re not great to get through them without a lot of damage. I haven’t been good at that this year.”

He killed the “can’t-win-at-home” story with seven brilliant innings of three-hit ball in a 4-1 win over Milwaukee in front of a packed house on Canada Day, but this one was even better.

Better, obviously, in that he pitched eight innings of shutout ball, but better also given that it came at a time when the Blue Jays needed it to stay in touch with the Orioles in the race for the American League East Division title. The victory cut Baltimore’s lead to four games and tied this series at 1-1, with the rubber match set for Thursday evening.

“I don’t know how it could be much better,” said manager John Gibbons. “Perfect timing because we’ve been struggling a little bit. It’s a good ball club and we needed that. We scored some runs early and made them stand up.”

Hutchison was staked to a comfortable early lead, highlighted by Jose Bautista’s 22nd home run of the year, a two-run shot off Baltimore starter and loser Wei-Yin Chen in the second inning that put the Jays up 4-1. Bautista would later add another RBI with a sixth-inning double.