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July 13. 2014 8:56PM

Buchholz sends Sox into break with shutout of Astros


Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz is congratulated by catcher Christian Vazquez after pitching a shutout against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Sunday. (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)

HOUSTON — Clay Buchholz tossed his fifth career shutout, a three-hitter, while a balanced offensive attack carried the Boston Red Sox to an 11-0 victory over the Houston Astros on Sunday at Minute Maid Park.

Buchholz (4-5) struck out a career-high 12 batters and retired the last 17 batters he faced. He allowed three singles and did not issue a walk while tossing 109 pitches, 76 strikes. Jason Castro was the lone Astro to reach third base against Buchholz, doing so in the fourth inning.

The Red Sox (43-52) initiated their offensive onslaught early, with Brock Holt, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz all reaching to open the first inning against Astros right-hander Brad Peacock (3-6). Two batters later Peacock was finished, having surrendered a leadoff home run to Holt while loading the bases with only one out recorded on his ledger.

A steady parade of Houston relievers could do little to stem the tide. Xander Bogaerts walked and scored off Astros right-hander Anthony Bass in the second; Mike Napoli and Daniel Nava reaching in succession and later scored in the third.

Boston tacked on two more runs in the fifth against Astros left-hander Darin Downs, with Christian Vazquez delivering a two-out, bases-loaded infield single that scored Nava and lured Astros second baseman Jose Altuve to make an errant throw that eluded shortstop Marwin Gonzalez and allowed Jackie Bradley Jr. to score from second.

The Astros (40-56) committed a third error in the seventh inning, this one a throwing miscue by Gonzalez, which keyed a two-run frame by the Red Sox. Both Red Sox runs came without the benefit of a base hit: Vazquez drove home Bogaerts with a sacrifice fly while the designated hitter, Ortiz, worked a bases-loaded walk to plate Stephen Drew.

The Red Sox won their second consecutive road series and closed the unofficial first half of the season with four victories in their last five games. Holt (5-for-6) finished with a career high five hits batting atop the order while Pedroia, Nava and Drew contributed multi-hit games.

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NOTES: Red Sox manager John Farrell called Mariners RHP Fernando Rodney on Saturday and informed him that he would serve as the injury replacement for Rays LHP David Price in the All-Star Game on Tuesday. Rodney (1-3, 1.98 ERA) leads the American League with 27 saves. ... With CF George Springer slowed by a sore right knee, Astros manager Bo Porter juggled his defensive lineup and installed Springer at DH. Kike Hernandez shifted from LF to CF while DH Chris Carter made his first start in left since Sept. 18, 2013 against the Cincinnati Reds. ... Former Astros 1B/LF Bob Watson was on hand to acknowledge 2B Jose Altuve for breaking his club record for hits prior to the All-Star Game. Watson recorded 123 hits before the 1973 All-Star Game. Altuve entered the series finale against the Red Sox with a major league-leading 130 hits.


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