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Betts' homer the difference as Red Sox edge Astros, 2-1

The Sports Xchange

June 16. 2017 11:59PM
Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts (50) swings and hits a solo home run against the Houston Astros during the eighth inning at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Friday, June 16, 2017. (Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports)

HOUSTON — Mookie Betts homered on the first pitch in the top of the eighth inning as the Boston Red Sox eked out a 2-1 white-knuckle victory over the Houston Astros on Friday night at Minute Maid Park.

Betts hit his 12th homer after Brian McCann hit the first pitch he saw from Boston left-hander Drew Pomeranz into the right field seats with one out in the seventh.

Betts, drilled a cutter from Astros right-hander Will Harris (2-2) into the Crawford Boxes in left field. Betts scored the first run for Boston (38-29) in the third inning, scoring on a two-out single by Mitch Moreland off Astros right-hander Mike Fiers.

Fiers was terrific but was bested by Pomeranz, who carried a three-hit shutout into the seventh inning before McCann parked his 10th homer. That closed the book on Pomeranz, who allowed one run on four hits and three walks with four strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings.

The Astros (45-23) had ample opportunity to make inroads down the stretch. George Springer was erased at the plate for the final out of the sixth inning, unwisely trying to score on a sharp Carlos Correa single to Betts in right field.

With a pair of runners in scoring position in the seventh, pinch-hitter Nori Aoki ended a splendid at-bat against Red Sox right-hander Joe Kelly with a lineout to third base. In the eighth, with Jose Altuve at third base representing the tying run, Evan Gattis rolled into an inning-ending double play against righty Matt Barnes.

Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel set the Astros down in order in the ninth for his 19th save.

After a rugged start, Fiers smoothed out in the latter stages of his outing.

Fiers stranded runners in scoring position in the first (Pedroia) and second (Jackie Bradley Jr.) before finally bending in the third on the Moreland RBI single. But when Fiers induced a double-play ground ball from Red Sox catcher Christian Vasquez, it allowed him to erase Josh Rutledge, who singled, and cap the fourth.

Fiers then retired the Red Sox in order in each of his final three innings.

Notes: Red Sox RHP Carson Smith had his scheduled rehab assignment for Sunday pushed back due to shoulder inflammation. Smith tossed a simulated inning earlier this week and was set to report to Triple-A Pawtucket for his first game since undergoing Tommy John surgery last May. ... A pair of Astros starters, LHP Dallas Keuchel and RHP Lance McCullers, appear poised to begin throwing programs in the coming days. Keuchel has been on the 10-day disabled list since June 5 with neck discomfort; McCullers since June 9 with lower back discomfort. ... Seeking a superior defensive option for fast playing surface against an Astros team that puts the ball in play, Red Sox manager John Farrell started 3B Josh Rutledge over Pablo Sandoval, who has a June slash line of .129/.206/.258.

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