By Brian McTaggart and Christian Boutwell
HOUSTON -- In the final meeting between two American League heavyweights until the final four games of regular season, the Red Sox used a pair of homers from Xander Bogaerts to overcome three Astros homers and win, 6-5, on Sunday night at Minute Maid Park.
With the win, the Red Sox moved into a virtual tie atop the AL East with the Yankees. The Astros, meanwhile, still have an 11-game lead in the AL West, but have dropped four consecutive series and went 3-6 on their homestand that finished Sunday.
"They took advantage of almost all of their opportunities," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We struggled with a couple of those. You look up and down the order and we had a tremendous amount of good at-bats. Maybe not at the right time when we needed it the most, but even some of those we didn't come through with runners in scoring position were pretty good at-bats. In small-margin games, this is going to be key."
Bogaerts hit a two-run homer off Astros starter Joe Musgrove in the sixth to put Boston ahead, 3-2, and Jackie Bradley Jr. added a two-run double later in the inning off reliever James Hoyt. The Astros got back-to-back homers from Jake Marisnick (454 feet, according to Statcast™) and George Springer in the bottom of the inning to get within one, 5-4. Hoyt hit Mookie Betts with a pitch in the seventh, and he scored on a Bogaerts single.
With the pair of homers, Bogaerts, who also had four total RBIs on Saturday, doubled his home run total this season to four. His three hits marked his 134th multi-hit game since 2015, the third most in the Majors.
The Astros finished just 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position and stranded 13 baserunners.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED What a throw: Benintendi perhaps saved the game for the Red Sox when he threw out Altuve at the plate for the second out in the eighth inning. With the bases loaded and one out, Beltran singled to left to score Springer, but Altuve was out at the plate on a 91-mph throw that traveled 237 feet, according to Statcast™. Hinch challenged the tag at the plate, but the call was confirmed. More >
"Beltran hit it off the end and I just fell in front and got it, threw it home and luckily had enough to get him out," Benintendi said.
Bradley delivers: Bogaerts homered in the first and sixth innings and drove in another run in the seventh that turned out to be the winning run, but Bradley Jr.'s two-out double in the sixth loomed large. He greeted Hoyt with a double to right field to score Hanley Ramirez and Benintendi and put the Red Sox ahead, 5-2.
Vazquez catches Fisher: Even though their top home run hitter -- Springer -- was at the plate with two outs in the ninth inning and a runner (rookie Derek Fisher) at first base, the Astros wanted to get the tying run into scoring position against Kimbrel, who's extremely tough on rigthies (2-for-59 entering game). Fisher was thrown out attempting to steal second to end the game despite having a 26.4-foot secondary lead, according to Statcast™ (MLB average on stolen bases in '15-16 was 20.2). Vazquez, who said he was expecting Fisher's attempted steal, had a 1.85-second pop time, according to Statcast™, and that's one of the fastest this season on a caught stealing.
"It took a perfect throw in a perfect spot to throw him out," Hinch said. "It's just a risk you're going to take against the best closer in the league."
"I was ready," Vazquez said. "I saw him getting a big lead there at first base. It was fun."
With two men on and two outs in the eighth inning and the Red Sox ahead by one run, Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel was ejected after being visibly frustrated on a called third strike by umpire Greg Gibson that was out of the zone to end the inning. Through a team spokesman, Gurriel declined to discuss the ejection, but Hinch did.
"He was pretty frustrated," he said. "Gibby gave him a little bit of a leash until he kicked his helmet and then he threw him out. That's also part of the game. Emotions are part of the game. It sucks when it doesn't go your way and you feel you have to cover more than the allotted plate."
PEDROIA RECEIVES X-RAYS
Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia was removed from the game after being plunked with a 92.3-mph pitch in the seventh inning. Pedroia left Minute Maid Park during the game to receive X-rays at a nearby hospital. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Red Sox: Hector Velazquez, who made his MLB debut on May 18 and was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on June 14, will start for the Red Sox Monday as they begin a three-game series against the Royals in Kansas City. First pitch for the series opener is set for 8:15 ET at Kauffman Stadium.
Astros: Right-hander Brad Peacock will start for the Astros as they open a four-game series against the A's at 9:07 p.m. CT Monday at the Coliseum. Peacock struck out 10 batters in just 4 2/3 innings Tuesday vs. the Rangers and is averaging 13.38 strikeouts per nine innings. .