KRISTIE RIEKEN, AP Sports Writer
HOUSTON (AP) — A pair of Red Sox from Texas sure made things tough on the Houston Astros in their return to the Lone Star state.
Clay Buchholz allowed three hits and struck out a career-high 12 in his fifth career shutout in Boston’s 11-0 win over Houston on Sunday.
Brock Holt had a career-best five hits, including a leadoff homer, to help the Red Sox to their fourth victory in five games heading into the All-Star break.
Buchholz went to high school 90 minutes from Houston in Lumberton, Texas, and Holt grew up in Stephenville, which is about 80 miles from Fort Worth.
“I definitely had a lot of people out here to watch the game, so that makes it even better,” Buchholz said. “Obviously, a win to end the first half is a good thing, too.”
All of the hits Buchholz (4-5) allowed were singles, and he didn’t walk a batter in his first shutout since June 2, 2013, against the Yankees.
Chris Carter extended his career-high hitting streak to nine games with a single with one out in the fourth. Buchholz sailed through the rest of the game, retiring his last 17 batters.
“The change-up was best that it has been all year,” Buchholz said. “The cutter had good bite to it. Whenever you’ve got four or five pitches working, it’s hard for a hitter to sit on any one of them.”
Holt, who played at Rice, launched a 92 mph fastball from Brad Peacock (3-6) into the seats in right field to give Boston an early lead. He’s the first Boston player to collect five hits in a nine-inning game since Victor Martinez on June 1, 2010. Holt smiled when told that a television shot of his mother showed her tearing up after his homer.
“You don’t expect to have weekends like this, so for all the family and friends to be in to see it was pretty special,” Holt said. “It doesn’t surprise me that (mom) was crying. She’s probably about to cry right now when I say goodbye.”
Peacock couldn’t locate his pitches and was done after getting just one out, forcing Houston to use five relievers to finish the game. Peacock was unhappy about being pulled so early, but manager Bo Porter wanted to make a change before things got out of hand.
“It’s not like he had command of the strike zone,” Porter said. “At that point, you say to yourself: ‘Are you going to wait until it is 4 or 5 to nothing or are you going to try to give us a chance?’ I felt like we had a better chance to get another guy in there at that point.”
Rookie Christian Vazquez had two hits and two RBIs to help the Red Sox score a season-high 11 runs.
Holt hit Boston’s first leadoff homer of this season. Dustin Pedroia singled before David Ortiz drew a walk. Porter had seen enough and pulled Peacock after he plunked Daniel Nava on his 27th pitch.
Xander Bogaerts walked to start the second and advanced to second on a passed ball. Stephen Drew’s single sent Bogaerts to third and he scored when Vazquez grounded into a double play to make it 2-0.
Holt and Pedroia then hit back-to-back singles, but Anthony Bass retired Ortiz to limit the damage.
Mike Napoli singled with no outs in the third before Nava reached on an error by first baseman Jon Singleton. An RBI single to center field by Jackie Bradley Jr. pushed the lead to 3-0 before a sacrifice fly by Bogaerts scored another run.
The bases were loaded with two outs in the fifth when Josh Zeid replaced Darin Downs and was greeted with an RBI single by Vazquez. A throwing error by Jose Altuve on the play allowed a second run to score and extend the lead to 6-0.
An error and a single by Drew left runners at the corners with one out in the seventh. The Red Sox made it 7-0 on a sacrifice fly by Vazquez. Holt singled before Pedroia walked, and Ortiz drew a bases-loaded walk to push the lead to eight runs.
Boston tacked on three more in the ninth inning.
NOTES: Carter, who is normally the designated hitter, played left field for the first time since last season. That allowed George Springer to be the designated hitter because of soreness in his right knee. … The Astros’ 40 wins at the break are the most they have had in the first half since winning 44 in 2009.
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