Red Sox' bats batter Astros
Boston (69-46) matched its 2012 win total by slugging its way out of a 5-0 hole. The top four batters in the Red Sox order - Jacoby Ellsbury, Shane Victorino, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz - paced the comeback, finishing a combined 11-for-18 with 11 runs, seven RBIs and four walks.
The Astros (37-75) blanked the Red Sox 2-0 in the series opener Monday night behind a strong bullpen performance. Houston relievers proved less effective in the middle game of this three-game series as Dallas Keuchel and Jose Cisnero combined to surrender seven earned runs on five hits and four walks while recording just three outs.
The Red Sox sent nine batters to the plate in both the fifth and sixth innings and scored five runs in each frame to flip a 7-3 deficit into a 13-7 lead. Ellsbury sandwiched a pair of home runs around leadoff walks in the fifth and sixth; Ortiz went 4-for-4 with four singles and two RBIs.
Despite allowing six runs on nine hits and two walks over 4 2/3 innings, Boston right-hander Brandon Workman (2-1) earned the win in relief.
What was a nightmarish first inning for Red Sox catcher Ryan Lavarnway was later forgotten, thanks to one timely swing of the bat.
Lavarnway was charged with four passed balls in the first while attempting to corral the knuckleball of right-hander Steven Wright, who was making his first career start. Houston managed three runs on one hit while Lavarnway and Wright struggled, and the Astros' lead ballooned to 5-0 in the second when Robbie Grossman belted a two-run home run off Red Sox reliever Brandon Workman.
But Boston scored thrice in the third inning and chased Astros right-hander Jordan Lyles with a five-run fifth. And Lavarnway, who joined Geno Petralli and Ray Katt as the only catchers in major league history to be charged with four passed balls in one frame, struck the decisive blow. He drilled a two-run double to left-center field that lifted Boston to an 8-7 lead and sent Lyles to the showers.
Lyles squandered leads of 5-0 and 7-3 by allowing eight runs on nine hits and three walks over 4 2/3 innings. He was charged with a wild pitch and plunked a batter en route to his methodical collapse.
NOTES: Red Sox RHP Clay Buchholz (neck strain) threw off a mound Tuesday, the first time he has done so since mid-July. He tossed 27 pitches at roughly 60-65 percent effort. Buchholz (9-0, 1.71 ERA) last appeared in a major league game June 8. ... The Astros feature the youngest roster in the majors with an average age of 25.7. The 13 rookies on the current roster are the most in the majors.