Bogaerts leads Red Sox past Astros
HOUSTON -- Red Sox manager John Farrell cut to the chase in acknowledging both the role shortstop Xander Bogaerts played offensively and how a pair of defensive plays proved equally decisive in preserving what Bogaerts provided.
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Bogaerts produced his first career multi-homer game while left fielder Andrew Benintendi and catcher Christian Vazquez showcased the value of accurate throwing arms as the Boston Red Sox won the rubber match of their three-game set with the Houston Astros 6-5 on Sunday night at Minute Maid Park.
Bogaerts finished 3-for-4 with four RBIs, doubling his season total for home runs to four by clubbing both blasts off Astros right-hander Joe Musgrove (4-6).
His two-run shot in the sixth inning sparked a four-run frame, and he added an RBI single in the seventh that scored Mookie Betts with what proved to be the decisive run. That tally stood thanks to Benintendi and Vazquez, with Benintendi erasing Jose Altuve at the plate to preserve a one-run lead in the eighth before Vazquez threw out Derek Fisher to end the game as he tried to steal second.
"Bogey offensively is the difference in this one but our ability to throw the baseball on the defensive side is what preserved this win tonight," Farrell said.
While Boston (39-30) pulled into a tie atop the American League East with the New York Yankees, Houston dropped all three series on its nine-game homestand.
The Astros (46-24) clubbed three home runs, including back-to-back blasts in the sixth inning off Boston starter David Price (2-1) and reliever Heath Hembree.
While Carlos Correa, who hit his 13th homer, Jake Marisnick (eighth) and George Springer (19th) all went deep, Houston couldn't quite get over the hump, stranding 13 baserunners and finishing 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position.
"You look up and down the order, we had tremendous amount of good at-bats," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "Maybe not at the right time when we needed it the most, but even some of those we didn't come through with runners in scoring position were pretty good at-bats. In small-margin games, this is going to be key."
Trailing 6-4 with Correa and Altuve on third and second, Carlos Beltran drove home Correa with a single to left-center. With Altuve darting home, Benintendi delivered a perfect toss to Vazquez, whose swipe tag nipped Altuve on the back.
Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel recorded his 20th save, aided by Vazquez nabbing the speedy Fisher as he attempted to get into scoring position for Springer.
Price allowed three runs and eight hits in five-plus innings. But his ability to hunker down with traffic on the bases proved key to his earning the victory.
The Astros managed three baserunners in the second inning and two more in the third but failed to score each time. It wasn't until Correa led off the fifth with his homer that Houston again capitalized on an opportunity.
"The amount of runners I had in scoring position, on second and third base there in the first inning, first and third with one out to be able to get out of that with just one run (helped)," Price said. "And whatever other innings I had with runners in scoring position with two outs or less than two, to be able to limit those innings and not allow that big inning to happen was big."
Musgrove surrendered a jarring blast to Bogaerts to straightaway center in the first and three additional hits before he found a rhythm with nine consecutive batters retired. But Bogaerts struck again in the sixth, his shot to left representing the beginning of the end for Musgrove, who allowed six runs over 5 2/3 innings.
"They're good hitters," Musgrove said. "If I execute pitches better, the results going to be different I think. Kind of expect that with any team, if you give them cookies they're going to take advantage of it."
NOTES: Astros LHP Dallas Keuchel will begin a throwing program on Monday in Oakland by playing catch for the first time since landing on the 10-day disabled list on June 5 with neck discomfort. This is the second DL stint for Keuchel related to his neck. He will not pitch on the upcoming seven-game road trip through Oakland and Seattle. ... Red Sox LHP Eduardo Rodriguez, on the 10-day disabled list since June 2 with a right knee subluxation, completed a bullpen session without issue and will ramp up defensive work to continue re-establishing mobility. ... Astros RHP Collin McHugh will travel to Florida and begin extended spring training on Monday. McHugh has yet to pitch this season after arriving in West Palm Beach with right shoulder tendinitis and later developing a right elbow impingement in a subsequent rehab start.