Boston banged out 17 hits, including four from David Ross, who homered twice, and the Sox have won three in a row.
Dustin Pedroia had three hits, and Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Napoli, Will Middlebrooks and Pedro Ciriaco each had two. Middlebrooks joined Ross and David Ortiz in going deep for Boston.
Ryan Dempster tossed six solid innings to earn his first win in a Red Sox uniform. He allowed two runs on four hits while striking out 10.
The Red Sox and Astros will be back in action on Saturday night. Felix Doubront gets the start for Boston, and his first pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.
Good night, everyone.
End 8th, Red Sox 7-3: The Red Sox could have had a big inning, but they still came up with another insurance run in the eighth.
Will Middlebrooks, David Ross and Pedro Ciriaco led off the inning with three straight singles. Middlebrooks’ was a little dribbler in front of the mound, while Ross and Ciriaco lined their knocks into left field.
Ross’ hit was his fourth of the game, as he entered the at-bat with two home runs and a single already.
Jacoby Ellsbury came up with the bags packed and no outs, but the Astros benefited from a huge double play. Ellsbury hit one right on the screws to shortstop Marwin Gonzalez, who turned and fired to third base to double-up Middlebrooks.
Replays show that Middlebrooks appeared to beat Gonzalez’s throw. Maybe the umpires just want to go home. Who knows?
That double play led to a drastic change in the inning’s outlook, as the Red Sox went from having the bases loaded and no outs to having runners at first and second with two outs.
Jonny Gomes ensured the Sox would come away with something, though. He ripped a base hit into left field that scored Ross with Boston’s seventh run.
Alex Wilson is coming on to pitch the ninth inning for Boston in a four-run game.
Mid 8th, Red Sox 6-3: Koji Uehara surrendered a one-out double to Chris Carter, but he kept the Astros off the scoreboard in the eighth.
Carlos Pena preceded Carter’s double with a ground out, and Fernando Martinez and Matt Dominguez succeeded it with a ground out and strikeout, respectively.
End 7th, Red Sox 6-3: Mike Napoli just keeps adding to his doubles total.
Dustin Pedroia led off the bottom of the seventh with a base hit, but he was quickly wiped off the basepaths when David Ortiz grounded into a double play. Shortstop Marwin Gonzalez took it to the bag himself before firing to first.
Napoli then smashed a double over the head of center fielder Robbie Grossman. It hit near the base of the wall, and it represents Napoli’s 13th double of the season. He now has 18 extra-base hits. As mentioned earlier in this blog, those are both Red Sox April records.
Daniel Nava grounded out to end the inning, and Koji Uehara is coming on to pitch the eighth inning for Boston.
Mid 7th, Red Sox 6-3: The Red Sox’ lead has been trimmed.
Clayton Mortensen came on to begin the seventh inning, and he started off his night by plunking Matt Dominguez, who has now reached base safely three times.
Marwin Gonzalez then dropped a bunt down the third-base line. David Ross came out from behind the plate to field it, but Mike Napoli was unable to handle Ross’ throw to first. Gonzalez likely would have beat out the bunt anyway, but the miscue allowed Dominguez to advance to third.
After a mound visit, Mortensen struck out Robbie Grossman, who ended up being the right-hander’s last batter of the evening. Manager John Farrell then called upon Junichi Tazawa.
Jose Altuve, who already drove in a run earlier in the game, lifted a fly ball to right field that plated Dominguez. Dominguez has scored all three of the Astros’ runs.
Jason Castro singled to bring up the tying run, but Tazawa made sure no more damage was done by striking out Brandon Laird. Laird has whiffed four times in this game. Rough night.
Ryan Dempster, on the other hand, didn’t have a rough night. The book closed on him after six innings of work. He gave up two runs on four hits while striking out 10 and walking three. He threw 104 pitches (64 strikes), and he’s currently in line for his first win in a Red Sox uniform.
End 6th, Red Sox 6-2: David Ross is having himself a game.
Ross, who has gone deep twice already, picked up his third hit of the contest in the sixth inning. He ripped a one-out single through the left side, marking his first three-hit game since Sept. 29, 2010.
Paul Clemens certainly paid plenty of attention to Ross at first base once he reached, which is funny because the Red Sox catcher has one stolen base in his entire 12-year career.
While Clemens was paying attention to Ross, Pedro Ciriaco assembled a nice at-bat. He worked the count full and then fouled off back-to-back pitches before popping out to Marwin Gonzalez at short.
Jacoby Ellsbury then tried to stage a two-out rally. He singled into right-center field — which sent Ross from first to third — and subsequently stole second base.
Ellsbury’s steal was his major league-leading 11th. That’s a new club record for April steals, as he broke his own mark of 10 April steals, set back in 2009. The stolen base was also the 200th of Ellsbury’s career. He joins Harry Hooper and Tris Speaker in the Red Sox’ 200 steal club.
Jonny Gomes couldn’t cash in on the two runners in scoring position, though. He struck out swinging to end the inning.
Mid 6th, Red Sox 6-2: John Farrell and the Red Sox’ trainer emerged from the dugout after Ryan Dempster struck out Brandon Laird to begin the sixth. Fortunately, everything seems to be OK.
It looked like Dempster favored his back a bit after picking up the inning’s first out, but he seemed to indicate that he felt just fine, and he certainly looked just fine.
Carlos Pena worked a one-out walk, but Dempster bounced back to strike out Chris Carter on three pitches. Fernando Martinez then grounded out to third to end the inning.
Dempster now has 10 strikeouts in the game. It’s the 16th time in his career that he has recorded 10 or more strikeouts in a game.
Dempster’s 10 strikeouts matches his season high, as he also struck out 10 against the Rays on Patriots’ Day. Dempster’s career-high strikeout mark stands at 12.
End 5th, Red Sox 6-2: David Ortiz has now homered in two straight games.
Ortiz, who struck out in his first two at-bats, made his third at-bat count. He lifted a 2-2 fastball that was down in the zone over the center-field wall to extend Boston’s lead to 6-2.
Ortiz homered to the same location on Thursday night, and his torrid pace continues. He’s now 12-for-23 since returning to the lineup.
Paul Clemens, working his second inning for Houston, struck out Mike Napoli and Daniel Nava after Ortiz’s long ball to end the inning.
Mid 5th, Red Sox 5-2: We had ourselves a close play at the plate in the fifth inning, but the Astros managed to sneak in a run.
Matt Dominguez, who doubled earlier in the game, started things by labeling a ball off the wall in left. It appeared to hit near the ladder that’s located on the Green Monster between the Red Sox Foundation and Covidien signs.
Ryan Dempster then picked up his eighth strikeout of the contest while facing Marwin Gonzalez, but Dominguez moved up to third base on a wild pitch with Robbie Grossman batting.
Grossman eventually walked, setting up runners at the corners for Jose Altuve. Altuve responded with a fly ball to left field. Daniel Nava came up firing to the plate, and his throw was on the mark, but Dominguez slid in just ahead of David Ross’ tag.
Jason Castro threatened to chip away at the lead even further, but Jonny Gomes sprawled out to make an inning-ending diving catch in left field.
End 4th, Red Sox 5-1: We have a Clemens sighting — Paul Clemens, that is.
Clemens replaced starter Erik Bedard after Will Middlebrooks and David Ross smacked back-to-back home runs to begin the bottom of the fourth. Clemens retired Pedro Ciriaco, Jacoby Ellsbury and Jonny Gomes in order.
The book is closed on another lackluster outing by Bedard. The left-hander gave up five runs on eight hits in three innings. He struck out five and threw 91 pitches (59 strikes).
8:51 p.m., Red Sox 5-1: Erik Bedard has been knocked from the ballgame by a pair of solo blasts in the bottom of the fourth.
Will Middlebrooks and David Ross went back to back to extend Boston’s lead to 5-1.
Middlebrooks’ home run is his sixth of the season. Ross’ shot is his third home run of the season and his second in this game.
Ross also took Bedard deep back in the second inning.
Mid 4th, Red Sox 3-1: Ryan Dempster struck out the side in addition to letting two guys reach base in the fourth inning.
Jason Castro led off the frame by pulling a ball down the right-field line. It rattled around a little bit in the corner, and Castro was able to cruise into second with a standup double.
Dempster then struck out the next two hitters he faced. The righty got Brandon Laird to go after an 0-2 splitter, and Carlos Pena went down looking at a fastball.
Chris Carter worked the count full before Dempster missed with a slider, resulting in two runners on with two outs. The veteran bounced back to fan Fernando Martinez on four pitches.
Dempster now has seven strikeouts for the fifth straight start. That matches Pedro Martinez’s streak to begin his Red Sox career back in 1998.
End 3rd, Red Sox 3-1: The Red Sox have scored in every inning thus far. In the third, Mike Napoli continued his historic April to extend Boston’s lead.
Dustin Pedroia got the offense going in the third by dropping a blooper down the right-field line. It landed in between right fielder Fernando Martinez and first baseman Brandon Laird, who were each giving chase, and it bounced up into the seats for a ground-rule double.
Napoli then came up with two outs and Pedroia on second, and he ripped a sharply hit double to left. Pedroia came around to score, and Napoli now has 27 RBIs this season.
With the double, Napoli has 12 doubles and 17 extra-base hits. Those are each the highest April totals in Red Sox history.
Mid 3rd, Red Sox 2-1: The Green Monster got another dent in the third inning, and it led to a Houston run.
Matt Dominguez led off with a double off the scoreboard in left. Jonny Gomes made a leaping bid, but it plunked right above his outstretched glove.
Dominguez tagged up and went to third on Marwin Gonzalez’s fly ball to center. He scored when Robbie Grossman grounded out to second base.
End 2nd, Red Sox 2-0: David Ross entered the game hitless in his last 12 at-bats and hitting just .120 (3-for-25) on the season. He’s probably feeling pretty good about himself after the swing he put on a 1-2 offering from Erik Bedard, though.
Ross launched his second home run of the season over everything in left field to give the Red Sox a 2-0 lead. Ross, of course, is known primarily for his defense and game-management skills, but no one on Boston’s end is going to complain about him showing off some pop here and there.
Pedro Ciriaco almost made everyone forget about Ross’ two-out blast real quick. He lifted a fly ball to center field that landed over Robbie Grossman’s head and bounced into the triangle. Ciriaco motored around the bases, perhaps thinking briefly about an inside-the-park home run, but third base coach Brian Butterfield threw up the stop sign.
Ciriaco was stranded when Jacoby Ellsbury grounded out to second base to end the inning.
Mid 2nd, Red Sox 1-0: Ryan Dempster picked up two more strikeouts in the second inning.
After falling behind 3-0 in the count, Dempster battled back to strike out Carlos Pena to lead off the second inning. Dempster finished off the K with a slider, which seems to be working for him in the early going.
Dempster next sat down Chris Carter swinging. The right-hander fell behind 3-1 in that at-bat, but again he battled back. He eventually picked up that strikeout on the slider as well.
Fernando Martinez fared batter in that he made contact, but the Astros outfielder rolled a slider over to second base, where Dustin Pedroia made the easy play.
End 1st, Red Sox 1-0: Dustin Pedroia entered the game hitting .301, having reached base in 21 of 22 games, ranking second in the AL with 15 walks and leading the Red Sox with eight multihit games. Yet, something’s been missing.
Ah, yes. It’s the power.
Pedroia had just three extra-base hits through his first 83 at-bats, and that includes a goose egg in the home run column. He didn’t go deep in the first inning, either, but he did demonstrate some pop by planting an RBI double off the Green Monster.
Pedroia’s double scored Jacoby Ellsbury, who led off with a hot shot that deflected off first baseman Brandon Laird.
Erik Bedard tied Jonny Gomes up with an inside fastball to pick up his first strikeout of the evening, and he then struck out David Ortiz after Pedroia’s double. Mike Napoli saw nine pitches, but he was eventually retired on a loud fly out to right-center.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Ryan Dempster has been striking out hitters at an impressive clip this season, and that trend continued in the first inning.
Dempster gave up a one-out double to Jose Altuve, but he managed to fan the next two hitters he faced to keep the game scoreless.
Jason Castro waved at a high fastball, while Brandon Laird put up a nice eight-pitch battle that ended with him looking foolish on a slider.
Dempster entered the game ranked fourth in the majors with 12.38 strikeouts per nine innings (33 K’s in 24 innings). He has struck out at least seven batters in each of his first four starts, which is actually the second-longest such streak to begin a Red Sox career since 1916. (Pedro Martinez — you might know him — fanned at least seven hitters in five straights games to begin his Sox career in 1998).
7:09 p.m.: Ryan Dempster’s first pitch is a strike, and we’re underway at Fenway Park.
7 p.m.: Mike Napoli enters this game — and the next three — looking to put himself in Boston’s history books.
Napoli has tied the Red Sox’ April records for extra-base hits and doubles. He has 16 extra-base hits, which has him tied with Jose Offerman (1999). He has 11 doubles, which has him tied with Ryan Sweeney (2012), Mike Lowell (2006) and Jose Offerman (1999).
Napoli also has the third-most April RBIs in club history with 26. He trails only Manny Ramirez (2001) and Mo Vaughn (1996).
6:40 p.m.: Boston’s hitters haven’t had a lot of success against Erik Bedard in the limited at-bats they have against him.
David Ortiz has faced Bedard the most (24 at-bats) while Jonny Gomes is a close second (23 at-bats). Ortiz holds a career .208 average against the lefty, while Gomes’ mark sits at .174.
On the flip side, the Astros — a young team — haven’t seen much of Ryan Dempster either.
5:05 p.m.: Shane Victorino will be out of the Red Sox’ lineup for the second straight game as he continues to battle a back issue that he initially suffered last weekend against the Royals.
Manager John Farrell said before the game that the team hasn’t considered putting Victorino on the DL at this point, but the outfielder might be out until at least Tuesday, when the Red Sox open up a six-game homestand in Toronto.
The Red Sox will go with Jonny Gomes and Daniel Nava in the outfield on Friday. Gomes will play left field and bat second against left-hander Erik Bedard, while Daniel Nava will man right field and bat sixth.
Stephen Drew, who continues to struggle in his return, will get the night off. Pedro Ciriaco will play shortstop and bat ninth.
The rest of Friday’s lineups are below.
Red Sox (15-7)
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Jonny Gomes, LF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Daniel Nava, RF
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
David Ross, C
Pedro Ciriaco, SS
Ryan Dempster (0-2, 3.38 ERA)
Robbie Grossman, CF
Jose Altuve, 2B
Jason Castro, C
Brandon Laird, 1B
Carlos Pena, DH
Chris Carter, LF
Fernando Martinez, RF
Matt Dominguez, 3B
Marwin Gonzalez, SS
Erik Bedard (0-1, 6.17 ERA)
8 a.m. ET: Win No. 1 has been elusive.
Ryan Dempster has pitched well for the Red Sox in his four starts, but he still hasn’t been able to pick up his first win of the season. The right-hander will have a great opportunity on Friday, though, as he’ll toe the rubber against the lowly Astros.
Clay Buchholz and the Sox took care of business in the series opener on Thursday behind another solid offensive performance from David Ortiz. Big Papi went 3-for-4 with a home run, and he’s now hitting .550 (11-for-20) since returning to the Red Sox’ lineup.
Standing opposite of Dempster on Friday night will be the well-traveled Erik Bedard, who made eight starts for Boston in 2011. Bedard won only one game in a Red Sox uniform, and he made a less-than-impressive stop in Pittsburgh before joining Houston. Bedard enters the game with an 0-1 record and a 6.17 ERA in four appearances (three starts).
Friday night’s first pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. Be sure keep it right here.