<
>

Rapid Reaction: Red Sox 8, Astros 3

HOUSTON -- For the first time in nearly a month, the Boston Red Sox are on a three-game winning streak.

Instead of the dramatic walk-off victory they had grown fond of in the previous two wins, the Red Sox pounded the Houston Astros early in an 8-3 win on Friday night.

Led by another strong performance from the crowd of rookies in the lineup, Red Sox hitters piled on hit after hit on veteran starter Scott Feldman. Once he was done, they unloaded even more on the Houston bullpen, using a five-run sixth to cement their third straight win.

The Red Sox also utilized a solid bounce-back start from veteran starter John Lackey, who pitched six innings, allowing two runs and four hits while walking five and striking out three.

Lackey's sharp start: Lackey had his best start in nearly a month as he carried a no-hitter into the fourth inning. In that frame, Lackey appeared to struggle with his control, walking Jon Singleton on 10 pitches and shouting frustration to home-plate umpire Alan Porter. Porter called a balk on Lackey in the next at-bat, and Lackey walked the next hitter, setting up an Enrique Hernandez RBI-single to break up the no-hitter and the shutout with two outs in the fourth.

After that, however, Lackey refused to come unraveled as he had in the late innings of his recent starts, allowing a solo homer to Chris Carter in the sixth.

Vazquez breaks through: After a less-than-dazzling 0-for-3 performance in his major league debut on Wednesday, rookie catcher Christian Vazquez proved why manager John Farrell has placed so much faith in him. Vazquez registered his first big league hit in the third inning by smacking a Feldman breaking ball into left-center for a single. A few pitches later, he scored his first big league run when Brook Holt belted a 380-foot triple off the Astros' bullpen in right-center.

In the next inning, Vazquez registered his first career RBI on an opposite-field double that scored Stephen Drew. He finished his memorable night 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored.

Lone Star State of Mind: Two native Texans shined brightly on Friday night in Houston. Lackey, who was born and raised in Abilene and played college baseball in Texas, headlined the group by putting his previous struggles against Houston behind him. He entered Friday 1-1 in three career starts with a 4.86 ERA against the Astros.

Holt, who was born in Fort Worth, raised in Stephenville and played one season in Houston in 2009 at Rice University, also had a strong night that started out with a double and a triple. Aside from briefly playing college ball less than 10 miles from Minute Maid Park, Holt also played one series in the Astros' stadium in February 2009 in the Houston College Classic.

Drew snaps slump: Drew broke an 0-for-16 slump in the fourth inning with a triple to deep center field. With one out in the sixth inning and runners on second and third, the Astros intentionally walked Drew to pitch to Vazquez, who came through with a two-RBI double. It marked the second straight game that Drew -- who entered Friday hitting .128 -- was intentionally walked.