By KEN POWTAK, Associated Press
BOSTON (AP) _ David Ortiz had two hits and three RBIs to extend his torrid start after a long layoff, and Felix Doubront overcame a wild first inning to pitch into the seventh as the Boston Red Sox beat the struggling Houston Astros 8-4 on Saturday night.
It was 14th win in 19 games for the surging Red Sox (17-7). Boston can tie a club record for the most wins in April by completing a four-game sweep over Houston (7-17) on Sunday.
Boston matched its best start since 2002 with its fourth straight win.
Ortiz is hitting .519 (14 of 27) with two homers and nine RBIs since getting back into the lineup last Saturday. He missed the 71 of the final 72 games last season and all of spring training with a heel injury.
The Red Sox went 18-8 in April 1998 and 2003.
Jacoby Ellsbury had a two-run single for the Red Sox. Dustin Pedroia and Daniel Nava each added two hits and an RBI.
Doubront (3-0) walked three in the first, hit a batter, and had a wild pitch before settling down to hold the Astros to three runs, four hits, striking out eight and walking four over 6 2-3 innings.
Houston starter Brad Peacock (1-3) gave up five runs on six hits in 3 2-3 innings.
Doubront retired 17 of 19 batters after the rough beginning. He was pulled with a runner on in the seventh. Alex Wilson escaped a bases-loaded, eighth-inning jam and Andrew Miller pitched the ninth.
Trailing 2-0, Boston scored four runs in the second on Ellsbury’s two-run single and Ortiz’s two-run double into the left field corner.
Ortiz’s sacrifice fly made it 5-2 in the fourth after Nava doubled leading off and advanced on Pedroia’s ground out to second.
Jose Altuve’s run-scoring ground out cut it to 5-3 in the seventh.
Stephen Drew, Nava and Pedroia each had RBI singles in the seventh.
The Astros took advantage of Doubront’s wild first to grab their first lead of the series. Doubront hit Brandon Barnes after a leadoff single before walking Brandon Laird. He then walked Chris Carter, forcing in a run, before Ronny Cedeno’s sacrifice fly made it 2-0. The left-hander walked the next batter on four pitches, but got the final two outs easily.
NOTES: Red Sox manager John Farrell said OF Shane Victorino, sidelined since leaving Wednesday’s game with a stiff lower back, has made slight progress, but was out again. … Farrell also said that LHP Franklin Morales has been shut down for a few days with a strained muscle on his left side. Morales has been on the DL since March 22 with a strained lower back. … Astros manager Bo Porter loaded his lineup with right-handed hitters from 1-7, with switch hitters in the final two spots. … Porter had glowing praise for Boston 2B Pedroia before the game. “I think people should ask, `Why don’t more people play the game that way?’ I’ve been a fan of Dustin Pedroia’s before I came to Fenway for these four games,” he said. “He’ll do what he can to beat you.” … Boston RHP Ryan Dempster walked out the player’s parking lot and went for a jog on the streets outside the park about 2 hours before the game. Fans that were lined up to get in didn’t even seem to notice. … RHP John Lackey (0-1, 4.15 ERA) is set to make his return from the disabled list Sunday against Houston’s Bud Norris (3-2, 4.13 ERA). Lackey went on the DL April 7 with a strained right biceps. … The Red Sox improved to 13-0 when scoring first.
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