HOUSTON (AP)In a series where the Boston Red Sox struggled to find their offense, Martin Perez’s best start of the season allowed them to avoid being swept by the Houston Astros.
Perez pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings, and the Red Sox headed into their first matchup against the New York Yankees with a 5-1 win over the Astros on Thursday.
”It was a fun game,” Perez said. ”I enjoyed it and we got the win.”
Christian Arroyo’s first home run of the season, a three-run drive in the second inning, helped Boston get off to a solid start.
Arroyo’s 10th career homer gave the Red Sox more runs than they managed in the previous two games combined in a series where the offense struggled mightily.
”It was an all-around good ballgame,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. ”For how bad it was the first three days, we can have a happy flight after this one.”
Perez (4-2) yielded six hits and struck out four in his fourth straight win. It was his longest start of the season.
”Today he was on top of his game,” Cora said. ”He was amazing. He’s been amazing the whole season. We’re really happy with where he’s at.”
Perez had retired eight of the previous nine batters when Garrett Stubbs singled with one out in the eighth. He walked Aledmys Diaz with two outs, and Adam Ottavino retired Alex Bregman to end the inning.
Brandon Workman, signed to a minor league contract last month after he was released by the Chicago Cubs, was brought up from Triple-A Worcester and made his first Red Sox appearance since he was traded to Philadelphia last August. The 32-year-old right-hander, who pitched for Boston from 2013-14 and 2017-20, gave up Yuli Gurriel’s eighth homer with one out in the ninth.
Boston headed to Yankee Stadium in second place in the AL East, two games behind Tampa Bay and 2 1/2 games in front of the third-place Yankees.
Cora was happy to see his team get a couple of big hits Thursday but knows the offense still needs to do more.
”It was better,” he said. ”It seems like we were able to slow down the at-bats today and you saw the results.”
Houston starter Jake Odorizzi (0-3) labored through three innings in his second start after missing a month with a strained muscle in his right arm. He allowed three runs, four hits and three walks. Odorizzi’s tough day ended a franchise-record streak of seven straight games in which Houston’s starter had allowed just one run.
”It’s just a bad-command start,” Odorizzi said. ”I wouldn’t say my stuff was good at any point today.”
Rafael Devers opened the second with a double. Hunter Renfroe walked and Arroyo homered into the left-field seats for a 3-0 lead.
Boston tacked on two runs in the seventh inning on a double by Xander Bogaerts.
The Astros outscored the Red Sox 18-4 in the first three games of this series, but they had trouble stringing hits together as their four-game win streak was snapped.
The Astros had just two hits when Gurriel singled with no outs in the fifth. Chas McCormick singled with one out, but Perez retired Myles Straw and Stubbs to end the threat.
Red Sox: RHP Ryan Brasier (strained left calf) is scheduled to throw live batting practice in Florida on Friday and if that goes well, he could begin a rehabilitation assignment soon after that.
Astros: Reliever Kent Emanuel announced on social media Thursday that he would have season-ending surgery on his left ulnar collateral ligament. He has been on the injured list since May 26 with left elbow soreness. … OF Michael Brantley (right hamstring tightness) is eligible to come off the injured list on Friday but it’s unclear if he will. Brantley hasn’t played since May 23.
Cora was ejected by plate umpire Lance Barrett for arguing a called third strike on Kevin Plawecki for the first out of the sixth inning. Cora stood in front of Barrett at home plate speaking animatedly for a bit before he was tossed.
”I didn’t agree with the strike zone,” Cora said. ”I was arguing balls and strikes and you can’t do that.”
Red Sox: Nathan Eovaldi (6-2, 4.01 ERA) is set to start for Boston in the first game of a three-game series against the Yankees and Michael King (0-2, 2.86 ERA) on Friday night.
Astros: Zack Greinke (5-2, 3.67 ERA) will start for Houston against Toronto’s Hyun Jin Ryu (5-2, 2.62 ERA) in the opener of a three-game series against the Blue Jays in Buffalo on Friday night.
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