Red Sox-Astros Live: David Ortiz’s Hot Streak Continues As Sox Defeat Astros 7-2 in Series Opener

Clay Buchholz Live BlogFinal, Red Sox 7-2: Daniel Bard yielded a two-out single, but he shut the door on the ninth inning, and the Red Sox have taken the series opener.

Bard got Carlos Pena to fly out, and he then struck out Chris Carter on a 93-mph fastball up and in. Fernando Martinez singled into right field, but Bard got Matt Dominguez to ground back to the mound to end the game.

The Red Sox jumped out early in this game, scoring four runs in the first inning while sending eight men to the plate. David Ortiz led Boston’s offensive attack on Thursday with three hits, including a home run off starter Philip Humber in the third inning. Ortiz is now hitting .550 (11-for-20) since returning to the Red Sox’ lineup.

Clay Buchholz was solid once again. He pitched into the eighth inning, allowing just two runs on six hits while striking out 10 in 7 2/3 innings of work. His record improves to 5-0.

The Red Sox and Astros will do it again Friday night. Ryan Dempster will square off with Erik Bedard as the Sox try to make it three in row. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.

Good night, everyone.

End 8th, Red Sox 7-2: The Red Sox were retired in order in the eighth inning, which means the Astros will need five runs in the ninth inning to keep this game going.

Stephen Drew and Daniel Nava each flew out in the eighth, while Jacoby Ellsbury was retired on a ground out. Drew is 0-for-3, and his average is down to .119.

Daniel Bard will take over for Boston in the ninth. This is his first appearance since being recalled prior to Wednesday’s game.

Mid 8th, Red Sox 7-2: Clay Buchholz went back out for the eighth inning. He got two quick outs but was then lifted after giving up a single to center.

Nevertheless, it was another strong outing for Buchholz, who will go to 5-0 with a victory in this game. His ERA went up, but up is really the only place it could go. Buchholz, who entered the game with a 0.90 ERA, now owns a still-sparkling 1.19 ERA after this two-run effort.

Buchholz gave up two runs on six hits in 7 2/3 innings. He struck out 10 and walked two while throwing 109 pitches (65 strikes).

Andrew Miller replaced Buchholz with two outs in the eighth. He got Jason Castro to fly to left field. Jonny Gomes, who entered the game for Mike Carp before the inning began, made a nice running play down in the corner.

End 7th, Red Sox 7-2: Mike Napoli struck out in his first three at-bats, but AB No. 4 proved to be much more fruitful.

Napoli greeted the new pitcher, Jose Cisnero, by driving an 85-mph slider into the right-center field gap. Cisnero buckled down from there.

Mike Carp and Jarrod Saltalamacchia both popped out into foul territory along the third base line, and Will Middlebrooks struck out swinging to end the inning.

Middlebrooks had an RBI double back in the fifth inning, but he’s also fanned twice. His average now sits at .169.

Mid 7th, Red Sox 7-2: Clay Buchholz is getting stronger as this game rolls on, and win No. 5 is certainly in the right-hander’s sights.

Fernando Martinez led off the seventh inning with a ground out, and Buchholz then struck out the next two hitters he faced. Matt Dominguez and Rick Ankiel were both caught looking.

Buchholz now has 10 strikeouts in the game. He’s thrown 101 pitches (61 strikes) thus far.

The book closed on Buchholz’s opponent, Philip Humber, after 4 2/3 innings. Humber allowed seven earned runs on 10 hits while striking out five and walking three. Yikes.

End 6th, Red Sox 7-2: Travis Blackley did something in the sixth inning that Philip Humber couldn’t do — retire David Ortiz.

Ortiz came up having gone 3-for-3 in his first three at-bats, and Blackley managed to get him to ground over the second base bag. Shortstop Marwin Gonzalez gobbled it up and fired to first to end the inning.

Blackley struck out Jacoby Ellsbury and Daniel Nava to start the inning. Both K’s came on the slider.

Dustin Pedroia then put up a heck of an at-bat before Ortiz’s ground out. Pedroia worked the count full, fouled off the seventh pitch he saw, and then laid off a ball in the dirt to extend the inning.

Mid 6th, Red Sox 7-2: Clay Buchholz cruised through the top of the sixth.

Buchholz struck out Jason Castro looking and then got both Carlos Pena and Chris Carter to ground out to Dustin Pedroia at second base.

End 5th, Red Sox 7-2:  The Red Sox opened up the game a little bit with two runs in the fifth.

The Sox received offense from guys who are hitting well, as well as from someone who has been struggling of late.

David Ortiz, who homered in his last at-bat, led off the inning with his third hit of the game. He’s now 11-for-19 since returning to the Boston lineup.

Mike Carp then singled into center field, and Ortiz managed to hustle his way all the way to third base. The big fella has never been the fastest guy on the field, but he appears to be running just fine since returning from his Achilles injury. His hustle play in the fifth drew a loud response from the Fenway crowd.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia drove in Boston’s sixth run with a base hit into center field. That also moved Mike Carp up to second base, setting up first and second for the struggling Will Middlebrooks.

Middlebrooks snapped an 0-for-11 skid with a double to left field that plated Carp with Boston’s seventh run of the game.

Middlebrooks’ double also ended Philip Humber’s night. He was replaced by Travis Blackley, who got Stephen Drew to ground out to first to end the inning.

Mid 5th, Red Sox 5-2: It took 17 games, but Rick Ankiel has finally walked.

Ankiel walked on five pitches to lead off the fifth inning, marking his first free pass of 2013. Unfortunately for the Astros, they couldn’t do anything with it.

Marwin Gonzalez struck out swinging, Robbie Grossman flew out to left and Jose Altuve grounded into a force out.

Clay Buchholz is up to seven strikeouts in the game. He’s thrown 77 pitches (45 strikes) through five innings of work.

End 4th, Red Sox 5-2: Jacoby Ellsbury threatened to add to Boston’s lead, but his fly ball fell just short of the left-field wall, and Fernando Martinez was able to haul it in.

Ellsbury’s fly out to the warning track came after Will Middlebrooks struck out and Stephen Drew walked on seven pitches.

Philip Humber finished the inning by striking out Daniel Nava, who had walked in his two previous plate appearances.

Mid 4th, Red Sox 5-2: Clay Buchholz gave up a hit, but he kept the Astros off the scoreboard for the first time since the first inning.

Fernando Martinez singled into center after Chris Carter led off the inning with a strikeout. He was retired, though, on a nice-looking double play turned by the Boston infield.

Matt Dominguez grounded to Will Middlebrooks at third, and Middlebrooks put his throw right on the money to Dustin Pedroia at second base. Pedroia then made a very quick turn to execute the inning-ending twin killing.

End 3rd, Red Sox 5-2: David Ortiz looks healthy, doesn’t he?

Ortiz, who entered the game hitting .500 (8-for-16) since returning, picked up his second hit of the ballgame in the third inning. Not only that, but it was a towering home run that landed in about the fifth or sixth row in center field.

Ortiz’s blast gets back one of the runs Clay Buchholz has surrendered over the last two innings, and perhaps more importantly, it shows once again that the slugger is locked in.

After Ortiz’s dinger, Mike Napoli struck out, and Mike Carp and Jarrod Saltalamacchia each grounded out.

Mid 3rd, Red Sox 4-2: The Astros continue to chip away.

Houston put up another run in the third inning, and what was once a four-run lead for Boston has been cut in half.

Marwin Gonzalez led off the inning with a double into the left-center field gap. It one-hopped off the wall, and Gonzalez cruised into second base easily.

Gonzalez then swiped third base with Jose Altuve batting, and he scored when Jason Castro pulled a two-out single into right field.

End 2nd, Red Sox 4-1: The Red Sox put two runners on in the second inning, but the Astros escaped any damage.

Jacoby Ellbury followed up Stephen Drew’s leadoff ground out by ripping the first pitch he saw into center field. Ellsbury was hustling out of the box, and he ended up on second base with a double.

Daniel Nava then worked his second walk of the contest to put runners at first and second. Unfortunately for the Sox, though, Dustin Pedroia grounded into a 5-4-3 double play.

It’s a step in the right direction for Philip Humber, who was charged with four earned runs in the first inning, but the Sox still threatened.

Mid 2nd, Red Sox 4-1:  The Astros pushed across a run in the second inning, but it wasn’t without some more Astros-like moments.

Chris Carter started the inning by lifting a fly ball down the left-field line. Thinking that it was going to travel foul into the seats, he opted not to run out of the box. Eventually, Carter realized the ball was about to land fair, and he thus decided to run, but the play at second base was a lot closer than it should have been.

Carter moved up to third on a base hit by Fernando Martinez. Matt Dominguez then bounced into a double play, which scored Carter.

End 1st, Red Sox 4-0: The Red Sox wasted no time jumping on the Astros — early and often, as they say.

Daniel Nava got the offense going with a one-out walk. He then moved up to second base on a passed ball charged to catcher Jason Castro. It didn’t take long after that for Nava to come around with the game’s first run, as Dustin Pedroia smoked an RBI single into center field.

Pedroia moved up to second on his fifth stolen base of the season, and he came around to score when David Ortiz pulled a base hit into right field. Rick Ankiel came up firing to the plate, but his throw sailed all the way to Watertown, which allowed Ortiz to move up to second.

Philip Humber managed to strike out the hot-hitting Mike Napoli, but Mike Carp ripped a broken-bat double down the right-field line to plate Ortiz. Clearly, first baseman Carlos Pena was thrown off by the piece of lumber coming his way.

Still, the Red Sox weren’t done. Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s single into center field brought home Carp with Boston’s fourth run.

Mid 1st, 0-0: The Astros ended the first inning with a very Astros-like move.

Clay Buchholz retired the first two hitters he faced before issuing a two-out walk to Jason Castro. (Robbie Grossman grounded out to first and Jose Altuve struck out.)

Then, after Castro took his base, the powerful Carlos Pena dropped down a bunt. I’m not exactly sure why Pena — who is, by no means, a speedster — would drop down a two-out bunt, but as you might have expected, the attempt failed miserably. Buchholz fielded the bunt easily and fired over to first to end the inning.

6:36 p.m.: Clay Buchholz’s first pitch is a ball, and we’re under way.

6:10 p.m.:  The lineup cards are in, and Mike Carp will get the start in place of a banged-up Shane Victorino.

Carp will play left field and bat sixth, while Daniel Nava will shift over to right field and bat second.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia gets the start behind the dish, and Will Middlebrooks has now been dropped to eighth in the order.

The complete lineups are below.

Red Sox (14-7)
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Daniel Nava, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Mike Carp, LF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Stephen Drew, SS

Clay Buchholz, RHP

Astros (7-14)
Robbie Grossman, CF
Jose Altuve, 2B
Jason Castro, C
Carlos Pena, 1B
Chris Carter, DH
Fernando Martinez, LF
Matt Dominguez, 3B
Rick Ankiel, RF
Marwin Gonzalez, SS

Philip Humber, RHP

5:45 p.m.: Just a reminder: NESN will be providing coverage of both the Red Sox and the Bruins.

Thursday’s Red Sox-Astros game will be televised on NESN, while the Bruins-Lightning game will be televised on NESNplus. To find your NESNplus channel, check out the listings at the link below.

Click here for Thursday’s NESNplus channel listings >>

5:30 p.m.: John Farrell spoke with the media a short time ago, and the big topic of conversation was obviously the demotion of Alfredo Aceves. Aceves was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket following Wednesday’s game.

Farrell said that Aceves’ demotion was solely “performance-based,” although it’s reasonable to assume the right-hander’s behavioral issues didn’t help his cause.

Aceves will serve as a starter in Pawtucket, as that’s where the organization could most use the depth. He’s expected to join the Triple-A club by Saturday.

With the open roster spot, the Red Sox have recalled catcher Ryan Lavarnway. Lavarnway’s stint with the major league club may only be brief, but he’ll add a right-handed bat to the mix in the meantime. That should help considering Shane Victorino is dealing with a bit of a back issue.

Farrell also sounded optimistic about John Lackey. It’s been unclear who will start Sunday’s game, but from the sound of it, there’s a good chance Lackey will be ready to return by then. No matter what, Sunday’s starter — whether it be Lackey or Allen Webster — will probably replace Lavarnway on the roster when the time comes.

Click here to read more about Alfredo Aceves’ demotion >>

8 a.m. ET: The Red Sox responded to a good old-fashioned beatdown by bouncing back and grinding out a 6-5 win over the Athletics on Wednesday. Now, the Sox’ focus turns to the Astros, who arrive at Fenway Park on Thursday for the start of a four-game set.

Houston, in its first year in the American League West, figures to have a difficult season ahead. The Astros are a very young team, and there are bound to be some growing pains before they’re able to morph into a competitive squad. That doesn’t mean the Red Sox should take them lightly, though, especially since Boston lost three of four before Wednesday’s win.

Clay Buchholz will get the start against Philip Humber. Humber, of course, threw a perfect game last season, but he’s hardly been the same pitcher this year. He enters Thursday’s game with an 0-4 record and a 6.63 ERA.

Buchholz is looking to move to 5-0, as he’s been lights-out thus far. His first step toward doing so will be his first pitch, which is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. ET. Be sure to follow along right here.

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