Doubront settles down, leads Red Sox past Astros

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BOSTON — After belting out a season-high 17 hits Friday night, the Red Sox continued to swing hot bats Saturday in their 8-4 win over the Astros at Fenway Park. The Red Sox are now 12-3 since the start of their seven-game winning streak, which began April 13.

Red Sox starter Felix Doubront got off to a rough start, allowing two runs in the first inning after walking three hitters, hitting another and throwing a wild pitch, but after that he settled into a groove, retiring 17 of 19 hitters at one point. He finished by going seven innings, allowing three runs on four hits, walking three and striking out eight. The Red Sox are now 4-0 in Doubront’s starts.

“He warmed up very well with a crisp bullpen and then in that first inning he might have been trying to establish his rhythm with an inconsistent release point and a number of walks we saw,” manager John Farrell said. “Even in that situation to just allow those two runs I thought he found a way to navigate through it and as the evening went along he had a much better rhythm, tempo and worked quicker. He has the ability to get a lot of swings and misses with that change up and his fastball. Again, to work into the seventh inning was a big lift.”

After falling behind 2-0 the Red Sox scored four times in the second inning highlighted by a two-run single from Jacoby Ellsbury. Once again David Ortiz paced the offense going 2-for-2 with a double and an RBI, extending his hitting streak to 19 games dating back to last season. Will Middlebrooks (two runs) and Daniel Nava and Dustin Pedroia all added two hits in the 12-hit attack.

Junichi Tazawa got out of a jam in the seventh before Daniel Bard came on in the eighth. Two straight walks on nine pitches forced him out of the game after just two hitters and Alex Wilson allowed one of the inherited runners to score, but escaped without any further damage. Andrew Miller pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to complete the win.

The four-game series will conclude tomorrow afternoon, with the Red Sox looking for the sweep (1:35, NESN) as John Lackey will make his return since suffering a bicep injury in his first start of the season. He will be opposed by Bud Norris for the Astros.

What they’ll be saying: Following Friday night’s 17-hit performance it was nice to see another 12-hit outing, but it was even better to see the bottom of the order contributing. The Red Sox 7-8-9 hitters went a combined 4-for-9 with two doubles and an RBI in the win. Middlebrooks and Stephen Drew are swinging the bat much better the past few games, which is a welcomed sign … Aside from a few rough innings Doubront has shown the ability to be the No. 3 pitcher on the Red Sox staff behind Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz. It seems like Doubront has one or two difficult innings in each start, but once he gets into a rhythm he is tough to solve.



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