HOUSTON -- For the third time in a week, the Astros' bullpen couldn't protect a late lead.Christian Vazquez and Andrew Benintendi clubbed seventh-inning home runs off Astros relief pitcher Will Harris to make a winner out of starter David Price and send the Red Sox to their 40th victory of
HOUSTON -- For the third time in a week, the Astros' bullpen couldn't protect a late lead.
Christian Vazquez and Andrew Benintendi clubbed seventh-inning home runs off Astros relief pitcher Will Harris to make a winner out of starter David Price and send the Red Sox to their 40th victory of the season, 5-4, on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park.
The Astros, who blew a five-run lead in the ninth inning Sunday at Cleveland and a two-run lead in the ninth Tuesday against the Yankees in New York, led 3-2 after Justin Verlander held the Red Sox to two runs and three hits in six solid innings, putting him in line for his eighth win. He took a no-decision instead.
Harris, who hadn't allowed a homer in 19 2/3 innings this year, gave up a two-out, game-tying shot to left field by Vazquez -- his first home run of the season. Harris walked nine-hole hitter Jackie Bradley Jr. before Benintendi hit a projected 417-foot blast, according to Statcast™, into the upper deck in right field to put the Red Sox ahead, 5-3.
"I didn't do my job," Harris said. "I got behind Vazquez and grooved a heater, 3-1, and he hit a home run. I walked Jackie after getting ahead of him and then got ahead of Andrew, and he put a good swing on a good pitch, so yeah, I didn't get the job done."
"At the end, it's a result-oriented game, but it comes down to some counts where things tip towards the hitter, and Will had a tough night," Astros manager AJ Hinch said.
Verlander threw 24 pitches in the first inning and got himself in trouble by walking Benintendi, who wound up scoring on a J.D. Martinez single. A sixth-inning walk to Xander Bogaerts led to another Martinez RBI single, meaning both of the runners who scored against Verlander had reached on walks.
"The first and last inning they gave me a little bit of a battle," Verlander said. "Top to bottom, these guys have a great lineup. That's two lineups in a row that have grinded, and that's the difference between great lineups and good lineups and mediocre lineups. The great ones, they find a way to grind you down. Myself personally, a little disappointed in a couple of walks that both ended up scoring, but overall not quite as consistent today as I have been."
Hinch said Verlander threw nine innings worth of baseball in six frames because of the way the Red Sox made him work. Verlander threw 101 pitches.
"They got some guys over there that give him a little bit of trouble, but I thought they worked him very hard," Hinch said. "I thought they created a little bit of havoc on the bases, which will bring some tension into the innings. As the innings went on, JV found his breaking ball when they started to chase it a little bit, but early he was pitching without command of his slider and that's a tough recipe, even for Justin Verlander."
The Astros cut their deficit to 5-4 in the eighth when Jose Altuve walked, stole second and third and scored on Yuli Gurriel's single.
Alex Bregman's two-run homer in the third off Price put the Astros ahead, 3-1, but Martinez's second RBI single of the game cut the lead to 3-2 in the sixth and produced the 50th RBI of the season for the former Astros outfielder.
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Verlander and catcher Max Stassi appeared to get crossed up a couple of times in the first inning, which may have led to a wild pitch. Verlander had been caught by veteran Brian McCann 11 times in his first 12 starts, but Saturday marked only the second time Stassi caught him. McCann is on the disabled list with knee soreness.
"I use some pretty advanced signs and Max and I have only worked together once," Verlander said. "I thought he did a great job jumping in, and not really having caught me that much, to do the job he did today it was a tremendous effort on his part. Moving forward, he'll do nothing but get better."
Gurriel is hitting an American League-best .436 (17-for-39) with runners in scoring position following his RBI single in the eighth inning.
HE SAID IT
"In my opinion, he's been the best hitter in baseball for the last month. He's hot. I made a couple of mistakes to him and he doesn't miss them. That's what happens with a hitter like that. He kind of put it in his wheelhouse, and you're probably happy they're just singles." -- Verlander, on Martinez
Right-hander Charlie Morton (7-0, 2.26 ERA) looks to remain unbeaten when the Astros wrap up their four-game series against the Red Sox at 6:35 p.m. CT on Sunday at Minute Maid Park. Morton hasn't lost since Sept. 9, 2017, winning a career-high 10 consecutive decisions. Rick Porcello (7-2, 3.65 ERA) will start for Boston.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.