BOSTON (AP) — Framber Valdez, who pitched seven no-hit innings in his previous start, retired the first 10 Boston batters on Wednesday and took a shutout into the sixth inning to help the Houston Astros beat the Red Sox 7-4 and complete their first sweep at Fenway Park.
Houston, which played in the NL for 50 years before switching in 2012, has won five straight as it fights for a third consecutive AL West title. The Astros entered the day essentially tied with — .001 behind — the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners; all three teams remain in contention for the AL wild-card spots if they falter.
The Red Sox lost for the fifth time in six games and are fifth in the race for the three AL wild-card berths, four games behind Toronto and seven back from the AL West pack heading into Wednesday night’s game.
Valdez (10-9) no-hit the Guardians on Aug. 1 and left Friday’s start against Detroit with a no-hitter intact before the bullpen took the loss. He extended his no-hit string to 10 1/3 straight innings before Justin Turner blooped a single into center in the fourth, with Houston already ahead 7-0.
Boston scored all its runs off Valdez in the sixth. In all, Valdez allowed four runs — two of them unearned — on five hits while striking out five in six innings.
Ryan Pressly pitched the ninth for his 29th save. Michael Brantley, Jeremy Peña and Martín Maldonado — Houston's No. 6, 8 and 9 hitters — had two hits apiece.
Triston Casas has three hits for Boston. Red Sox starter Kutter Crawford (6-7) gave up six runs on seven hits and a walk, striking out one in 2 2/3 innings. He gave up three runs with two out in the second inning, and three more after loading the bases with one out in the third.
Astros: RHP Kendall Graveman left the game with two outs in the seventh because of an undisclosed injury. ... RHP Hector Neris replaced him and struck out Ceddanne Rafaela to end the inning.
Red Sox: OF Jarren Duran had surgery on a tendon in his left big toe and is expected to miss the rest of the season. Duran was batting .295 with eight homers, 40 RBIs, 34 doubles and 24 stolen bases this season before going on the injured list Aug. 10.
Astros: Off Thursday before opening a three-game series at home against the last-place Yankees. LHP Carlos Rodon (1-4) will start for New York against Houston RHP Justin Verlander (10-6).
Red Sox: Off Thursday before playing at Kansas City. LHP James Paxton (7-4) will start the series opener for Boston.
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb
Jimmy Golen, The Associated Press