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Closing Time: David Ortiz, Red Sox stay red-hot in win over Astros

04.27.13 at 10:49 pm ET
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Felix Doubront overcame a rough start to turn in a quality outing, leading the Red Sox to an 8-4 win over the Astros. The victory was the Sox’ fourth straight, and 14th in their last 19 games.

The Red Sox improve to 17-7, a win total they hadn’t reached in 2012 until May 15. The Astros’ loss also ensures the Sox will have won six of their eight series thus far this season.

Doubront lasted 6 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on four hits while throwing 103 pitches. After allowing two runs in the first, the lefty rebounded to not allow another score until Houston added one more in the seventh. It was the fourth time in 36 career starts he has lasted at least 6 2/3 innings, the same distance he reached in his last start.

‘€œThe one thing that we’€™ve seen is that many times it’€™s taken him a couple innings to get into the flow of the game,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell of Doubront. “That was the case again tonight. It was in spring training. Once he hits his stride, he becomes much more efficient. That was the case again tonight. Forty-one or 42 pitches after two innings, then all of a sudden you start to see those 9-to-14 pitch innings that allow him to get deeper into the game. it’€™s just a matter of him finding his rhythm on the mound and fortunately he was able to come through that first inning without a big number on the board.”

Here is what went right (and wrong) for the Sox:

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Jacoby Ellsbury is now 3-for-5 with the bases-loaded this season after the leadoff hitter drove in the Red Sox’ first two runs via a one-out single in the second. The hit drove in both Jarrod Saltalmacchia (walk) and Will Middlebrooks, who had doubled off the top of the left field wall.

David Ortiz notched the second second-inning bases-loaded hit for the Red Sox, rifling a double into the left field corner to score both Ellsbuy and Stephen Drew (walk). It was the designated hitter’s second hit of the game, giving him 11 hits in 14 at-bats against right-handed pitching. The hit made it 4-2 Red Sox.

– Ortiz added another RBI by lining out to left field in the fourth, scoring Daniel Nava (double). The at-bat came after Houston manager Bo Porter replaced starter Brad Peacock with lefty Travis Blackley to face the DH. Peacock finished his night allowing five runs on six hits and five walks over 3 1/3 innings.

‘€œI think when David’€™s healthy, I don’€™t want to say it’€™s more focused. The fact is he has a major injury he suffered a year ago that’€™s behind him. We all know what type of hitter he is,” Farrell said. “You see the progression and the continued improvement the last two years, particularly against left-handed pitching. Tonight that was the case again. Blackley’€™s got good stuff, and the sac fly on a good fastball off the plate away ‘€” that’€™s not easy to do. We’€™re all recognizing he’€™s doing things that look to him to be very easy. But it’€™s hard to imagine or script out that he would come back and have this type of performance given the layoff.”

– Drew reached base three times, once via a seventh-inning single that plated Saltalamacchia with Red Sox’ sixth run. He also walked twice.

– After going two straight games without a hit for the first time this season, Nava bounced back a pair of hits, including a seventh-inning RBI. That single to left was followed by Dustin Pedroia’s third hit of the game, pushed the Sox’ lead to five runs. It was Pedroia’s second straight three-hit game, while seeing the second baseman now reach base in 23 of his 24 games this season.

Jonny Gomes broke out the leather for a second straight night, saving potentially two runs by reaching up and grabbing Robbie Grossman’s line-drive just before the left field wall in the eighth inning.

“There’€™s been a couple times he’€™s entered the ballgame and he’€™s been challenged right away. He makes a heck of a play on a line drive right at him. If that ball gets over his head, that inning has a chance to get more interesting than it was already,” Farrell said. “He’€™s done an excellent job defensively in left field for us.”

– With the bases-loaded and two outs in the eighth, reliever Alex Wilson fanned the potential game-tying run, pinch-hitter Rick Ankiel. It was the lefty hitter’s 19th strikeout in 46 plate appearances.

WHAT WENT WRONG

– Doubront threw 31 pitches (just 14 strikes) in the first inning, leading to an early 2-0 lead for Houston. It was the most pitches ever thrown by the lefty in a first inning. The Astros first run came when Doubront issued a bases-loaded walk to Chris Carter. (It was the fourth time in the starter’s career he has forced a runner home with a free pass.) That was followed by sacrifice fly from Ronny Cedeno.

Mike Carp made two outs in the Red Sox’ four-run second inning.

Daniel Bard was pulled after throwing nine pitches, eight of which were balls. He would be charged with a run after Matt Dominguez greeted Wilson with an RBI single, scoring Carlos Pena.

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