Red Sox-Astros Live: Felix Doubront Overcomes Shaky Start to Guide Boston to 8-4 Victory


Dustin Pedroia, Fernando MartinezFinal, Red Sox 8-4: Andrew Miller enjoyed a 1-2-3 ninth inning, and the Red Sox have taken the first three games of their series with the Astros.

Felix Doubront showed plenty of resilience after a shaky start. The lefty struggled with his control and allowed two runs in the first inning, but he bounced back to go 6 2/3 innings and eventually earn a victory. Doubront’s record improves to 3-0.

Daniel Nava, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Will Middlebrooks each had two hits as part of Boston’s offensive attack, which included a four-run second inning.

The Red Sox and Astros will finish their four-game set on Sunday. John Lackey will return to the Fenway Park mound, and the action will kick off at 1:35 p.m. ET.

End 8th, Red Sox 8-4: Jose Veras pitched the eighth inning for Houston, and he did a solid job.

Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes and Jarrod Saltalamacchia went down in order. Napoli grounded out, Gomes struck out and Saltalamacchia flew out.

Andrew Miller will come on with a four-run lead to try and close this one out.

Mid 8th, Red Sox 8-4: Daniel Bard is still battling the same demons.

The hard-throwing, yet notoriously wild right-hander walked the only two batters he faced in the eighth inning before manager John Farrell saw enough.

Carlos Pena walked on four pitches against Bard, and Carlos Corporan took his base after five pitches. Farrell elected to go with Alex Wilson, who entered the game on the heels of five scoreless outings to begin his Red Sox career.

Wilson was greeted rather rudely by Matt Dominguez, who singled into left field to score a run.

With runners at first and second, Wilson got both Marwin Gonzalez and Robbie Grossman to fly out. Grossman nearly poked a line drive up over the head of Jonny Gomes in left, but for the second straight night, Gomes made a very nifty grab. He leaped as he ran back toward the warning track, and he was able to haul it in for the second out, saving a run in the process.

Rick Ankiel pinch-hit for Brandon Barnes with two outs, and he struck out swinging. Wilson went to the fastball to pick up the K and escape the jam.

End 7th, Red Sox 8-3: The Red Sox are starting to pull away a bit.

Boston put up three more runs in the seventh inning, and the Sox now have 12 hits to their credit.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia got the offense clicking in the seventh after Jonny Gomes — who pinch-hit for Mike Carp — flew out to right. Salty doubled off the Green Monster in left.

Will Middlebrooks, who continues to make offensive strides, walked to put runners at first and second for Stephen Drew. Drew came through with a single into center field that plated Saltalamacchia with Boston’s sixth run.

The Red Sox kept piling on from there.

After Jacoby Ellsbury struck out for the second out of the inning, Daniel Nava lifted a wall-ball single to left that scored Middlebrooks and sent Drew hustling to third. Dustin Pedroia knocked Drew in with single into right field.

David Ortiz’s long fly out to left-center finally ended the inning, but not before the Sox completely seized control of this game.

Daniel Bard, who worked a scoreless ninth inning on Thursday night, will take over for Boston in the eighth.

Mid 7th, Red Sox 5-3: Junichi Tazawa’s night started off with a balk and a walk, but he ended up keeping the score the same.

Tazawa first faced Fernando Martinez, who pinch-hit for Brandon Laird. With Martinez at the plate, Tazawa was called for a balk, which allowed Brandon Barnes to advance to second base.

Martinez then worked a walk to bring the go-ahead run to the plate, but Tazawa bounced back to strike out Chris Carter. Carter has struck out three times in this game.

The book is officially closed on Felix Doubront. He gave up three runs on four hits and allowed four walks in 6 2/3 innings. He also struck out eight while throwing 103 pitches (62 strikes).

All in all, Doubront did a very nice job of settling down after a shaky first inning. At one point, it looked as if the left-hander was headed for a disastrous night, but he quickly threw the game in a headlock.

9:47 p.m., Red Sox 5-3: Manager John Farrell turns to the bullpen with two outs in the seventh inning.

Felix Doubront gave up his first run since the first inning in the seventh, and he’s responsible for a runner at first.

Marwin Gonzalez led off the inning with a single. He moved up to second base on a passed ball with Robbie Grossman batting. After Grossman grounded out, Jose Altuve came up, and Gonzalez stole third base with him at the plate.

Altuve knocked in Houston’s third run with a ground out to third base.

Brandon Barnes came up next, and he hit a slow roller to the left side. Will Middlebrooks, who has shown an ability to make barehanded plays all season, made another one, but his throw was in the dirt. Mike Napoli was unable to handle it.

Doubront exits after 6 2/3 innings, and Junichi Tazawa will be the first reliever out of the Boston bullpen.

End 6th, Red Sox 5-2: Baseball is funny. There are times when you can hit a ball right on the screws, yet your reward is an inning-ending double play.

Mike Napoli suffered that fate in the sixth inning.

Dustin Pedroia walked with one out after Daniel Nava fanned to cap off an eight-pitch at-bat. Pedroia then swiped his sixth base of the season, although David Ortiz would soon occupy first base with a walk of his own.

Ortiz also received a little chin music during his at-bat. Clearly, there was no ill intent from Wesley Wright, but it had Big Papi leaning back out of the way.

Napoli got ahead in the count 3-1, as Wright seemed to be more concerned with Pedroia at second base than anything. Napoli then smoked a fastball right at shortstop Marwin Gonzalez, who flipped to second base to complete the double play.

Mid 6th, Red Sox 5-2: Felix Doubront is in a groove right now.

After giving up a hit, walking three, hitting a batter and surrendering two runs in the first inning, the left-hander has been in cruise control. He has given up just one hit and one walk while keeping the Astros off the scoreboard over the last five innings.

In the sixth, Doubront retired Ronny Cedeno, Chris Corporan and Matt Dominguez in order. Cedeno and Corporan each grounded out, while Dominguez ended the inning by popping out to Will Middlebrooks in foul territory.

End 5th, Red Sox 5-2: Travis Blackley kept Boston’s offense at bay in the fifth, although Will Middlebrooks continues to make strides offensively.

Middlebrooks lined a one-out single into center field. He’s now up to the Mendoza Line, hitting an even .200 with a 2-for-3 night so far. Middlebrooks has a wall-ball double in addition to his fifth-inning single, and even his out was well-struck.

The Red Sox couldn’t do anything with Middlebrooks’ base hit, though. Stephen Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury both grounded out harmlessly to end the inning.

Mid 5th, Red Sox 5-2: Well, that was easy.

Felix Doubront followed up his 12-pitch fourth inning with a 1o-pitch fifth.

Doubront sandwiched Brandon Laird’s ground out with two strikeouts. He went with back-to-back changeups to freeze Brandon Barnes, and he got Chris Carter on a fastball-curveball-fastball sequence.

Doubront, who has a propensity for racking up K’s, has eight strikeouts thus far. More importantly, he seems to now be in complete control after weathering a rough first inning.

End 4th, Red Sox 5-2: Even when David Ortiz makes an out, he manages to be productive.

Daniel Nava led off the bottom of the fourth inning with a double into left field, and he moved to third base when Dustin Pedroia grounded out to second.

Astros manager Bo Porter then opted to make a pitching change, bringing in Travis Blackley for the ineffective Brad Peacock.

Ortiz greeted Blackley by smacking a 1-2 fastball to left field. Chris Carter was able to make the play, but the line drive was deep enough to bring home Pedroia with Boston’s fifth run.

Mike Napoli reached with a two-out single into left, but Blackley bounced back to strike out Mike Carp looking.

Mid 4th, Red Sox 4-2: Felix Doubront is keeping the ball down, and it’s enabling him to pick up ground-ball outs. It’s also allowing him to keep his pitch count in check as we move forward.

Doubront benefited from three ground-ball outs in the fourth inning. He did yield a one-out double to Marwin Gonzalez, but the left-hander is settling in, and he has looked even more comfortable while working with a lead.

Doubront, who has six strikeouts and four walks, has thrown 73 pitches so far. That’s a good total to be at considering his rough, 31-pitch first inning.

End 3rd, Red Sox 4-2: Will Middlebrooks was about a foot shy of picking up his seventh home run of the season in the second inning. In the third, he flew out to the warning track.

Middlebrooks is starting to look comfortable in the box, which is a far cry from the way he looked for the better part of two weeks. With a home run on Friday and two better-looking at-bats so far in this game, perhaps the 24-year-old is on the verge of breaking out of his lengthy slump.

After Middlebrooks’ loud, one-out fly out, Stephen Drew walked. Jacoby Ellsbury then flew out to end the inning.

Mid 3rd, Red Sox 4-2: Felix Doubront gave exactly what the doctor ordered in the third inning.

Doubront struck out the side, throwing only 12 pitches in the process. That’s huge, as the lefty’s pitch count was already up to 47 before the inning.

All three hitters Doubront faced in the third went down swinging. Chris Carter fanned on a curveball to begin the inning. Ronny Cedeno then went down on a fastball, while Carlos Corporan whiffed on a changeup.

Doubront is starting to settle down nicely after a very rough first inning. He’s starting to be more aggressive, and he’s suddenly throwing all of his pitches for strikes.

End 2nd, Red Sox 4-2: The Red Sox always seem to give Felix Doubront plenty of run support, so it was only a matter of time before the offense got the runs back, right?

The Sox’ offense kicked it into high gear with one out in the second inning, and it all started with the bottom of the order.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia worked a walk, and Will Middlebrooks came literally about a foot away from tying the game on the spot. Middlebrooks jumped all over a 1-1 fastball and banged it high off the left-field wall for a double.

Brad Peacock then issued his second walk of the inning to Stephen Drew, which loaded the bases for the top of the order.

Jacoby Ellsbury, who picked up his 200th career stolen base on Friday, dropped a single into left-center field. It scored both Saltalamacchia and Middlebrooks to tie the game.

The Sox weren’t done.

Daniel Nava threatened to give Boston the lead when he pulled a ball toward the hole between first base and second base, but second baseman Jose Altuve made an excellent diving stop. Altuve fired to first for the second out while Drew took third and Ellsbury took second.

Peacock experienced more control issues with two outs. He walked Dustin Pedroia — although his 2-1 offering probably should have been called a strike — to once again load the bases. David Ortiz made it count by going the other way down the left-field line for a two-run double.

Ortiz, who has two hits in this game, is now hitting .538 since returning, and he owns a 19-game hitting streak dating back to last season.

Peacock issued a fourth walk to Mike Napoli, which loaded the bases back up, but Mike Carp struck out to finally end the inning.

Mid 2nd, Astros 2-0: Felix Doubront walked another batter in the second inning, but it was an all-around much better inning for the left-hander.

Doubront picked up a quick out when the No. 9 hitter, Robbie Grossman, hit a little dribbler to the left side. Both Doubront and third baseman Will Middlebrooks went after it, but Doubront eventually moved out of the way. Middlebrooks made an excellent barehanded play and delivered a strong throw to first to retire Grossman.

Doubront then struck out Jose Altuve, who even missed on a bunt attempt during the at-bat.

The inning looked like it was going to be flawless, as Doubront got ahead of Brandon Barnes. Doubront threw three straight balls after getting ahead 1-2, though, and the left-hander was forced to work a little bit longer.

Doubront made sure he didn’t get into any additional trouble by making quick work of Brandon Laird. It look three pitches for the lefty to pick up the K.

End 1st, Astros 2-0: The Red Sox started making some noise with two outs in the first inning, but a big strikeout from Brad Peacock ended the threat.

Jacoby Ellsbury grounded out to lead off the inning. Daniel Nava then ripped a line drive, but it was right at first baseman Brandon Laird for the second out.

The Sox wouldn’t go quietly, though. Dustin Pedroia singled, and David Ortiz then followed up with a base knock of his own. Center fielder Robbie Grossman had trouble handling Ortiz’s hit, and that allowed Pedroia to advance to third.

Mike Napoli, who leads the Red Sox with 27 RBIs, almost put the Red Sox on the scoreboard. He smoked a 2-1 changeup down the left-field line, but it landed just foul. Peacock then went to the curveball on his 2-2 offering to freeze Napoli and pick up the strikeout.

Mid 1st, Astros 2-0: It was an ugly first inning for Felix Doubront, who was forced to throw 31 pitches.

Jose Altuve led off the game with a single into left field. Doubront then plunked Brandon Barnes on the shoe top, creating a threat right out of the gate.

Things only got more difficult from there, as a wild pitch allowed both Altuve and Barnes to move up.

Doubront walked Brandon Laird on five pitches, and he then walked Chris Carter to give the Astros a 1-0 lead. The early struggles prompted a mound visit, as Doubront was all over the place.

Ronny Cedeno stepped up with the bases loaded, and he lifted a fly ball to center field that brought home Houston’s second run. After another walk — this one on four pitches to Carlos Corporan — Matt Dominguez popped out to short and Marwin Gonzalez struck out swinging to end the inning.

It was a very rocky frame for Doubront, who was wild and got squeezed a bit. The boo birds are already out, and that’s never a good sign for a starter in the first inning.

Of Doubront’s 31 pitches, only 14 were strikes. All things considered, the Red Sox are fairly lucky that they’re only down two runs.

7:09 p.m.: Felix Doubront’s first pitch is a ball, and we’re off and running.

6:55 p.m.:  As I mentioned earlier, Felix Doubront’s high strikeout and walk totals tend to elevate his pitch count. He has certainly demonstrated excellent swing-and-miss potential over the early part of his career, though.

Doubront enters Saturday’s game having fanned over a batter per inning in his major league career. He has 217 strikeouts in 213 innings. He has 198 strikeouts in 193 innings as a starter.

Doubront’s 9.23 strikeouts per nine innings as a starter rank third among active big league left-handers. Only Clayton Kershaw (9.28) and Matt More (9.29) own a better mark.

6:45 p.m.: NESN will once again have coverage of both the Red Sox and Bruins on Saturday. The Red Sox-Astros game will air on NESN, while the Bruins-Capitals game will air on NESNplus.

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5:12 p.m.: John Farrell will plug Daniel Nava back into the No. 2 spot in the lineup with right-hander Brad Peacock on the mound. He’ll start in right field.

Mike Carp will get the start on Saturday with Shane Victorino still battling a back issue. Carp will play left field and bat sixth.

Saturday’s complete lineups are below.

Red Sox (16-7)
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

Felix Doubront, LHP (2-0, 4.32 ERA)

Astros (7-16)
Jose Altuve, 2B
Brandon Barnes, RF
Brandon Laird, 1B
Chris Carter, LF
Ronny Cedeno, DH
Carlos Corporan, C
Matt Dominguez, 3B
Marwin Gonzalez, SS
Robbie Grossman, CF

Brad Peacock, RHP (1-2, 7.50 ERA)

8 a.m. ET: The Red Sox fell to the Athletics in embarrassing fashion on Tuesday night. Since that 13-0 loss, they’ve won three straight.

Two of Boston’s wins have come against the lowly Astros, but you can only play whichever team is on the schedule, and the Sox have taken care of business thus far in the final series of their lengthy homestand.

Felix Doubront will take the ball for the Red Sox on Saturday night. He picked up a win his last time out after going 6 2/3 innings against the A’s. He allowed three earned runs in that outing on Monday, and he struck out eight while walking five. It was a typical Doubront outing, as the high strikeout and walk totals led to a high pitch count. (Doubront threw 113 pitches.)

On Saturday, Doubront will go up against Brad Peacock, who has struggled this season. Certainly, the Sox would like to see Doubront attack the strike zone, while the offense will try to do its part to continue providing him with plenty of run support. The Red Sox are unbeaten in Doubront’s three starts thus far, and the left-hander has had the benefit of 10.8 runs of support per nine innings (20 runs in 16 2/3 innings).

Saturday’s first pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET. Be sure to keep it right here.

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