Red Sox-Astros Preview

Just as interleague play comes to a close, the Boston Red Sox

have rediscovered their offense.

The Red Sox go for their fourth straight win Sunday when they

try to complete a three-game sweep of the Houston Astros.

Boston (48-34) improved to 4-4 on its nine-game interleague road

trip following a 10-4 win Saturday. Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez

and Kevin Youkilis each had three hits while Darnell McDonald hit a

three-run homer in the eighth.

The trip had a tough start as the Red Sox scored 10 runs in the

first five games while hitting .195. However, they’ve scored 22

runs and batted .312 in the last three.

Much of the damage during that winning streak has come in the

late innings. Boston has scored twelve of its 17 runs in this

series in the seventh inning or later, including eight off

Houston’s bullpen in 5 1-3 innings.

“That is why when you are not scoring, you don’t have to like

it, but you don’t need to panic, you don’t need to change things

up, you just keep running them out there, because they are good

hitters,” manager Terry Francona said. “You are going to go

through periods where it just doesn’t work.”

Gonzalez’s three hits Saturday gave him 33 in 17 interleague

games, tied with Baltimore’s Nick Markakis for the major league

lead. Gonzalez is batting .440 against the NL this season and .303

during the road trip.

Now, he can help Boston win four in a row for the first time

since a nine-game run June 3-12.

Gonzalez and the Red Sox appear to have a good chance to

continue their offensive success when they face rookie Jordan Lyles

(0-3, 4.75 ERA), who had a rough outing against Texas on Tuesday,

allowing career highs of five runs and 10 hits over six innings of

a 7-3 defeat.

“I thought he was trying too hard,” bench coach Al Pedrique told

the Astros’ official website. “He’s still learning, but we feel

like he threw the ball better.”

The Astros (29-55) have lost five of the 20-year-old

right-hander’s six starts this year.

Houston has dropped seven of eight overall. The bullpen has a

10.18 ERA over the last seven games.

Michael Bourn had four hits and scored twice Saturday, extending

his hitting streak to 11 games. He’s batting .404 during that


However, Bourn is 0 for 4 against probable Red Sox starter Josh

Beckett (6-3, 2.20), who is coming off his worst outing of the


Beckett gave up five runs, two homers and five walks in six

innings of a 5-0 loss to Philadelphia on Tuesday.

The right-hander, who missed his previous start because of the

flu, saw his ERA jump from 1.86. He recorded only one strikeout – a

career low when pitching at least six innings.

“I thought, as expected, he didn’t feel strong throughout the

game,” Francona told the Red Sox’s official website. “It was hot

and he was coming off being real sick.”

Beckett is 2-2 with a 2.20 ERA in six starts against the Astros,

but hasn’t faced them since 2008.