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Saturday, July 12, 2014
Rapid Reaction: Astros 3, Red Sox 2

By Jordan Godwin | Special to ESPNBoston.com


HOUSTON -- After blowing out the Houston Astros on Friday, the Boston Red Sox retreated back to their old ways in Saturday's 3-2 loss.

For the 16th time in their last 27 games, the Red Sox were embroiled in another one-run nail-biter.

Except unlike the first two victories of their short-lived three-game winning streak, there were no walk-off heroics, and the Red Sox were on the losing end of the narrow decision. The Red Sox fell to 17-20 in games decided by one run as they squandered 13 hits by stranding nine runners.

The Astros scored the go-ahead run in the eighth inning after Jose Altuve led off with a double off Jake Peavy and eventually scored with Junichi Tazawa on the mound.

The scoring play was tragically reminiscent of so many close games the Red Sox have dropped this season. Brock Holt chased down a dribbler up the middle, flipped to Dustin Pedroia to try to get the third out and maintain the 2-2 tie, but the runner was called safe in a close play as replays appeared to show Pedroia's foot coming off the bag as he extended to make a barehanded catch.

Despite Boston's brief ninth-inning rally, the Astros put the Red Sox away when Pedroia grounded into a double play with two runners on. Red Sox manager John Farrell challenged the call at first base, but the ruling on the field was confirmed by the replay.

Despite the loss, Peavy delivered his best performance of the season, striking out a season-high nine batters in seven innings, allowing three runs on six hits with just one walk.

The Red Sox fell into an early 2-0 hole when Jason Castro sent a towering shot to right-center on the ninth pitch of a lengthy duel against Peavy. Mookie Betts waited at the wall, leapt, but failed to come down with the ball, missing by inches.

The Red Sox answered in the next frame as David Ortiz needed only one pitch -- an 89 mph fastball -- to outdo Castro's right-field shot by about a dozen rows.

Peavy held the Astros at bay for the next three innings, and the Red Sox finally tied the game in the seventh with a Pedroia sacrifice fly that scored Jackie Bradley Jr.

Finally, a homer: The Red Sox ended a 198-at-bat homerless streak in the fourth inning, and who better to do it than Ortiz? His line-drive shot near the right-field foul pole was his 20th of the season and 451st of his career, moving within one of tying Carl Yastrzemski for 36th on the all-time list. The Red Sox had not homered since Sunday.

Mookie's firsts: After Christian Vazquez achieved a night full of career firsts on Friday, Betts gathered several firsts of his own. Playing in his ninth career game, Betts committed his first error in the fifth inning on an outfield single that allowed the runner to advance to second. The error was not costly though, as Peavy got out of the inning unscathed.

Betts got his first career stolen base in the next inning, swiping second with Bradley on third.

Xander's slump-buster: Rookie shortstop Xander Bogaerts entered Saturday's game hitting .090 in his previous 27 games with 31 strikeouts and just one extra-base hit in 105 plate appearances. On Saturday, however, he found scrappy ways to bust the slump.

In his first at-bat, he hit a line-drive single to left field but was gunned out at second trying to get his first double since June 6. He followed by legging out an infield single down the third-base line.