BOSTON (AP) — Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez hit back-to-back homer runs in the first inning and the Houston Astros continued their late-August surge with a 6-2 win over the Red Sox on Tuesday night.
Mauricio Dubón added a two-run double in the sixth for the Astros, who kept pace in a tight race for the AL West after entering the night one game behind division-leading Seattle.
“It was huge just to come out and get some runs on the board,” said Bregman, who also had an RBI single in the fifth.
The Astros opened a 3 1/2-game lead over Toronto for the final AL wild card spot and are 1 percentage point behind Texas, which is second.
Since dropping three straight last week, including a pair of losses to the Red Sox in Houston, the defending World Series champion Astros have slugged their way to four straight wins, scoring 45 runs during the streak.
“It’s awesome what we’re doing. Bats are coming alive. The starters, bullpen — everybody’s doing their job right now and it’s all coming together,” said J.P. France, who got his 10th win of the season less than a week after getting shelled by the Red Sox during a 17-1 loss at Houston.
France (10-5) pitched 5 2/3 innings, holding Boston to two runs on five hits with one walk and three strikeouts.
Adam Duvall homered for Boston, which has lost four of five and fell one step closer to being knocked out of playoff contention with 29 games remaining.
Brayan Bello (10-8) pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowing three runs — two of them earned — on four hits with two walks and two strikeouts. He got stuck with an unearned run in the fifth after a fielding error by Rafael Devers at third base helped set up Bregman’s RBI single that pushed Houston’s lead to 3-1.
“After the first inning he was good. We just didn’t make plays behind him,” Boston manager Alex Cora said. ”We put ourselves in a bad spot not making plays."
Bello steadied himself after a rough start in the first, when after striking out Jose Altuve, Bregman and Alvarez hit back-to-back homers that put the Astros up 2-0.
Bregman drove a 2-1 sinker from Bello out to left-center for his 22nd homer and had barely made it back to the dugout before Alvarez hit a line drive just inside Pesky’s Pole in right for his 23rd.
“Most of them go foul down there but it didn’t have time to go foul,” Houston manager Dusty Baker said.
France, who made his big-league debut in May, was facing the Red Sox for the second time in less than a week and fared much better in Boston. France was also the starter last Friday, when he lasted just 2 1/3 innings and allowed 10 runs on 11 hits.
“He got his 10th win. That’s pretty good for a guy that you didn’t really count on,” Baker said. “So he’s been our surprise guy. He goes about his business and serious about it, but calm and collected. That’s what you like to see out of young players.”
Astros: Reinstated OF Michael Brantley from the 60-day injured list and started him in left field. Brantley, a five-time All-Star, hadn’t played in a game since June 2022 and had been recovering from surgery on his right shoulder. Brantley batted sixth and went 0-for-4. … The Astros optioned OF Corey Julks to Triple-A Sugar Land and designated RHP Jake Cousins for assignment.
Red Sox: Announced OF Jarren Duran will miss the remainder of the season following surgery for a toe injury. Manager Alex Cora said he expects Duran to be ready for spring training.
Astros RHP Framber Valdez (9-9, 3.40 ERA) starts the series finale Wednesday afternoon. The Red Sox had yet to name a starter for the game, which is the Red Sox’s last at home until Baltimore visits on Sept. 8.
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