Red Sox 15, Astros 10

When Red Sox catcher Ryan Lavarnway tied a major league record
with four passed balls in the first inning as he struggled to
handle pitches from knuckleballer Steven Wright, it looked as if
Boston would be in for a long night.

Lavarnway and the rest of the Red Sox didn’t dwell on the tough
start and instead focused on how to overcome it.

Jacoby Ellsbury homered twice and Jonny Gomes added a three-run
shot and the Red Sox rallied from a five-run deficit for a 15-10
win over the Astros on Tuesday.

”We try not to give up until the game is over,” designated
hitter David Ortiz said. ”Things got kind of crazy at the
beginning, but we kept on playing through it.”

Houston extended its lead to 5-0 before Ellsbury’s two-run shot
in a three-run third closed the gap.

The Astros led 7-3 before a five-run fifth inning, highlighted
by a two-run double by Lavarnway gave Boston a one-run lead.

”It was a key swing in the game,” manager John Farrell said of
Lavarnway’s hit.

The Red Sox tacked on five more runs in the sixth, capped by the
pinch-hit homer by Gomes.

The win gives Boston 69 wins this season, which ties its win
total from last year’s difficult campaign with 47 games to go.

Robbie Grossman, Brett Wallace and Jake Elmore homered for the
Astros, who have lost five of six.

Ortiz had four hits, two RBIs and scored twice for the Red Sox
and Shane Victorino added three hits and scored four times.

Wright lasted just one inning in his first major league start.
He had never thrown in a domed stadium before and said his ball had
more movement that it’s ever had. He felt bad that Lavarnway had
such a difficult time handling his pitches.

”Usually I can keep it within a certain area of the strike
zone,” Wright said. ”He’s caught me before, and he’s done a
really good job. And today it was all over the place and it makes
it tough.”

Brandon Workman (2-1) relieved him and got the win despite
yielding nine hits and six runs in 4 2-3 innings.

Houston’s Jordan Lyles (4-6) gave up nine hits for his third
straight start and tied a career high with eight runs in 4 2-3
innings.

”He pitched himself into some predictable fastball counts
against a really good fastball-hitting team,” manager Bo Porter
said of Lyles. ”They didn’t miss them and they put good swings on
them.”

Wright won his last two relief appearances and had thrown 9 2-3
scoreless innings entering Tuesday’s game. But he had trouble with
command from the start and walked leadoff hitter Robbie
Grossman.

Grossman stole second before advancing to third on the first
passed ball of the inning. He then plunked Brandon Barnes and he
later advanced to second on another passed ball.

A third passed ball allowed Grossman to score and Barnes to take
second. The last passed ball of the inning sent Barnes home before
a single by Jason Castro.

Wright walked Marc Krauss, prompting a visit to the mound by
Lavarnway. The visit didn’t seem to help as Wright soon followed it
with a wild pitch that left Castro at third.

He scored on a groundout by Wallace before Wright finally
escaped the inning by retiring Matt Dominguez.

It was the third time in major league history that a team had
four passed balls in one inning. It last happened on Aug. 22, 1987,
when Texas Rangers catcher Geno Petralli did it against the White
Sox in the seventh inning. Knuckleballer Charlie Hough was pitching
in that game.

Workman replaced Wright for the second inning and Jonathan
Villar singled with one out before Grossman launched his homer into
the seats in right field to extend the lead to 5-0.

Ellsbury’s homer got Boston within 5-2 the third inning. Ortiz
hit an RBI single later in the inning to make it 5-3.

Wallace matched his home run total from last year when he
connected on his ninth of the season to push Houston’s lead to 6-3
in the third.

L.J. Hoes hit his first career triple on a long fly ball which
bounced up onto Tal’s Hill in center field in the fourth. Villar
notched the first RBI of his career with a single that sent Hoes
home and make it 7-3.

Ellsbury walked to start the fifth before scoring on an error by
Hoes after a double by Victorino. Dustin Pedroia’s RBI double cut
Houston’s lead to 7-5 before a single by Ortiz. The Red Sox added a
run on a one-out groundout by Mike Carp which sent Ortiz to
second.

Ortiz advanced to third on a wild pitch before Lyles walked
Stephen Drew.

Lavarnway’s double, which sailed out of reach of sprinting left
fielder Grossman, scored two to give Boston an 8-7 lead and chase
Lyles.

Ellsbury sent his second homer to the second deck in right field
off Jose Cisnero to leave Boston up 14-9 in the seventh.

NOTES: Boston reliever Matt Thornton, who left the game on
Sunday in the eighth inning with tightness in his right oblique
area, is doing better, but still isn’t ready to play. ”He feels
improved just by going through range-of-motion-type movements,”
manager Farrell said. ”It was a good day for him, but we’re still
in that timeframe where a roster decision may have to be made if we
don’t see further progression by (Wednesday).” …Red Sox RHP Clay
Buchholz, on the disabled list with neck and shoulder ailments, had
a bullpen session on Tuesday where he threw 27 pitches. ”He came
out of today’s session feeling pretty good about himself, and more
importantly, he’s built up enough of a foundation that we can build
a mound progression for him to follow,” Farrell said.
”Progressive steps are being made right now, which is good.”…
Sprinter Carl Lewis, a nine-time Olympic gold medalist, threw out
the ceremonial first pitch. … The series wraps up on Wednesday
when Boston’s Ryan Dempster opposes Jarred Cosart.