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Mookie, Wright power Sox past Astros

April 22, 2016

HOUSTON -- Mookie Betts tripled twice, doubled and singled as the Red Sox scored runs in each of the first four innings against Astros starter Collin McHugh and cruised to a 6-2 win behind pitcher Steven Wright on Friday night at Minute Maid Park.Wright (1-2) became the first Red Sox

HOUSTON -- Mookie Betts tripled twice, doubled and singled as the Red Sox scored runs in each of the first four innings against Astros starter Collin McHugh and cruised to a 6-2 win behind pitcher Steven Wright on Friday night at Minute Maid Park.
Wright (1-2) became the first Red Sox pitcher since Jon Lester in 2014 to throw six consecutive quality starts by limiting the Astros to four hits and one run in 6 2/3 innings, overcoming five walks in the process. A pair of seventh-inning passed balls by catcher Ryan Hanigan allowed the Astros to score their only run off Wright.
"Later in the game, I think I was rushing a little bit, but the ball was moving well all night," Wright said. "I was just trying to keep the ball in the strike zone, and the key was just getting them to swing."
Betts opened the game with a triple and scored on a single by Dustin Pedroia, who later scored on a Hanley Ramirez sac fly with the bases loaded to make it 2-0. Betts, Brock Holt and Xander Bogaerts added RBI hits to push the lead to 5-0.
The Astros, who went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position, have lost four in a row and eight of 10 games to fall to 5-12.
"We've got to stop putting ourselves in a hole," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We won't quit and we won't stop. We're not going to lose our personality. We've gotten punched in the face a little bit these first few weeks, but we'll respond. I believe in the character of these guys and we're all grinding. We're all disappointed, we're all searching for answers on how to hit better with runners in scoring position, how to come through with the right outs at the right time, how to make plays."
Betts on it: Betts made sure McHugh was under pressure from pitch one, notching a leadoff triple and eventually scoring. He was 75 percent of the way to a cycle by the fourth inning. Betts couldn't add a home run in his final two at-bats, leaving him just shy of the first Red Sox cycle since Holt did it on June 16 of last season. It would have been just the second Boston cycle in the past 20 years. Betts finished the game 4-for-5 with two triples, an RBI and three runs scored.

"I just come out swinging and try to make him uncomfortable at least," Betts said. "We were able to put some good swings on some pitches and make him uncomfortable through those innings." More >
McHugh rocked: Astros starting pitchers entered the game with a 5.11 ERA that ranked second to last in the American League behind the Red Sox (5.65). McHugh responded with his second-shortest start of the season, allowing five runs and 10 hits in four innings to suffer his third loss in four starts this year.

"I wasn't good today from the get-go," McHugh said. "My command wasn't very good. I didn't have a lot of bite on a lot of my pitches and they made me pay for it. They put swings on it and got guys on base and seemed to get a guy around every inning." More >
On the Wright side: Even with Eduardo Rodriguez nearing a rehab assignment, Boston manager John Farrell said before Friday's game that Wright has done everything he could to earn a more permanent spot. Wright proved it again, tossing his third straight quality start and never letting the Astros off the mat. Spotted the early advantage, the knuckleballer deftly pitched around five walks and keeping the damage to a lone run. Despite allowing just three combined runs in his first two starts, the veteran finally picked up his first winning decision of the season.

"Every starter's goal is to go as deep into the game as you can," Wright said. "But a lot of things have got to go right, and tonight, we made some great plays on defense. … It was crucial for me to go as deep as I could, and I was fortunate enough to do it." More >
"You're not going to break this team. There's a resolve about this team and a compete button that I believe we have, and ultimately it needs to come out a little stronger and with a little bit more conviction. What we're going through right now, I don't like it. Nobody in the clubhouse does, but it's our reality. We've dug ourselves this hole that can end tomorrow if we come out and play the way that we know we can." -- Hinch
Farrell unsuccessfully challenged an out call on Ramirez in the fifth inning when he tried to stretch a single into a double. Hinch unsuccessfully challenged a caught stealing call at third base in the sixth inning with George Springer running.

Red Sox: The Red Sox will send Clay Buchholz to the mound in Saturday's 4:05 p.m. ET game, and he's coming off his premier start to date this season. The righty blanked the Blue Jays for 6 2/3 innings on Monday, and it was a positive sign after he allowed five runs in each of his first two starts. Still, Boston has yet to win a game Buchholz has started this year.
Astros:Mike Fiers (1-1, 6.48 ERA) will get the ball to try to halt the Astros' four-game losing streak when they face the Red Sox at 3:05 p.m. CT on Saturday at Minute Maid Park. Fiers has allowed 22 hits and 12 earned runs in 16 2/3 innings
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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

Chris Abshire is a contributor to based in Houston.