HOUSTON (AP) – As Andrew Benintendi walked to the plate in the seventh inning, Red Sox teammate Brock Holt predicted to manager Alex Cora that the outfielder would go yard.
Turns out, Holt tends to make that kind of bold claim two or three times a game. He was 1 for 1 on Saturday, though.
Benintendi and Christian Vazquez homered during a three-run seventh inning that lifted Boston over the Houston Astros 5-4 on Saturday night.
Holt knocked off his hat, stood on a chair and spread both arms as Benintendi rounded the bases. A bewildered and laughing Cora gave Holt a high-five.
“Whenever you’re not playing, you try to do whatever you can to help the team,” Holt said. “Tonight, I was able to get Beni a two-run home run.”
Former Cy Young Award winners Justin Verlander and David Price each pitched six innings before handing off to the bullpens. Will Harris (1-3) allowed homers to Vazquez and Benintendi in the seventh, setting up Price (6-4) for a victory.
Craig Kimbrel earned his 19th save by striking out two during a scoreless ninth.
Verlander allowed two runs, three hits and two walks while striking out six. He had earned AL Pitcher of the Month in May with an 0.86 ERA in six starts.
“I thought he threw nine or 10 innings worth of game in a six-inning game,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “They really made him work. They have some guys over there that give him a little bit of trouble. I thought they worked him very hard.”
J.D. Martinez scored Benintendi following a leadoff walk in the first inning. It was just the second time in 23 starts with Houston, including the playoffs, that Verlander allowed a run in the first inning.
Martinez added another RBI single in the sixth. Martinez, who entered Saturday with an MLB-leading 48 RBIs, has driven in a run in four of his last six games at Minute Maid Park against his former team.
“In my opinion, he’s been the best hitter in baseball over the last month,” Verlander said. “You know he’s hot. I made a couple mistakes to him, and he doesn’t miss them. That’s what happens with a hitter like that. You put it in his wheelhouse, probably happy they were just singles.”
The Astros put the lead back in Verlander’s hands in the third inning when Alex Bregman hit a cutter into the Crawford Boxes for his sixth homer. In the previous inning, Marwin Gonzalez tied it with a triple to deep center that scored Yuli Gurriel.
Gurriel had an RBI single that scored Jose Altuve in the eighth to trim Boston’s lead to 5-4.
Price threw a season-high 109 pitches but grew increasingly efficient in his later innings, retiring the last 11 batters he faced. He allowed five hits and three runs while walking one and striking out seven.
“The way we went out there and battled back there in that seventh, that was huge, especially the way Verlander has been throwing the baseball,” Price said. “If you go out there and put up a crooked number against him, you’re probably going to lose. But the way we battled back, especially after losing the first two, that was huge.”
Red Sox: 2B Dustin Pedroia’s return from the disabled list lasted three games. Left knee inflammation in his recovery from offseason surgery will sideline him on the 10-day DL, retroactive to May 30. After Boston put OF Mookie Betts on the 10-day DL with an abdominal strain Friday, the team recalled 1B Sam Travis and LHP Bobby Poyner from Triple-A Pawtucket.
Astros: Gonzalez left the game with right knee soreness after making a leaping catch at the wall in the third inning — Hinch said he is day-to-day and should be OK. … OF Josh Reddick, who is on the 10-day DL with an infection in his left knee, will join Double-A Tulsa on Sunday for a rehab assignment and will be reevaluated possibly to be called up for the next series. …. OF Derek Fisher (gastrointestinal discomfort) was activated off the 10-day DL and optioned to Triple-A Fresno. … C Brian McCann, who was put on the 10-day DL on May 29 with right knee soreness, took batting practice and did fielding activities early Saturday.
The Red Sox improved to 40-19, their best 59-game start since also starting 40-19 in 2002. Boston won 40 of their first 59 games for the sixth time in franchise history. The franchise-record best 59-game start came in 1946 (42-17).
HE SAID IT
“I didn’t do my job,” Harris said. “I got behind Vazquez and grooved the heater 2-1. He hit a home run. I walk Jackie after getting ahead of him. I got ahead of Andrew, and he put a good swing on a good pitch. I just didn’t get the job done.”
Red Sox: Rick Porcello (7-2, 3.65 ERA) will face the Astros for the first time since allowing five hits, two runs and three walks in three innings of Game 4 of the 2017 ALDS. In his most recent outing, Porcello earned a win against Toronto, allowing five hits and three runs in 6 2/3 innings.
Astros: Charlie Morton (7-0, 2.04 ERA) will try to stay undefeated both on the season and in his career against Boston. Morton is 2-0 with a 1.74 ERA in two career starts against the Red Sox and hasn’t lost in 14 straight starts, dating to a Sept. 9 loss in Oakland last season.
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