Nick Pivetta tosses complete game 2-hitter as Red Sox take series from Astros with 5-1 win

The ball was once again flying out of Fenway Park on Wednesday night as the Red Sox bounced back with a series-clinching win over the Astros. Boston defeated Houston by a final score of 5-1 to improve to 15-22 on the season.

After Nick Pivetta surrendered a leadoff home run to Jose Altuve, the Sox lineup quickly responded by scoring two runs in their half of the first inning. Matched up against Jose Garcia, Rafael Devers ripped a one-out triple down the right field line and scored from third on a J.D. Martinez sacrifice fly that nearly left the yard.

Xander Bogaerts followed by actually leaving the yard, as he crushed a Garcia cutter 358 feet over the Green Monster for his fourth home run of the season. Fast forward to the third, Enrique Hernandez led off by reaching base on a fielding error and scoring all the way from first on a wallball double off the bat of Devers.

An inning later, Trevor Story drew a leadoff walk and moved up to second when Franchy Cordero reached base on an Altuve fielding error. Both runners were driven in on back-to-back run-scoring singles from Christian Vazquez and Hernandez, which gave the Red Sox a commanding 5-1 lead.

Pivetta, meanwhile, had settled in nicely after giving up that leadoff homer to Altuve. In what was his eighth start of the season for Boston, the right-hander retired 18 consecutive batters at one point before yielding a leadoff double to Michael Brantley in the top of the seventh. He stranded Brantley on second and then sat down the side in order in the eighth.

Coming back out for the ninth, Pivetta put the finishing touches on a complete game two-hitter as well as a 5-1 win with yet another scoreless frame. He becomes the first Red Sox starter to record an out in both the eighth and ninth inning of a game this season.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 112 (78 strikes), Pivetta wound up allowing just one earned run on two hits, no walks, and eight strikeouts over eight solid innings of work. It is the second complete game of the 29-year-old’s career.

The Red Sox have now won their last two series. While Martinez saw his hitting streak come to an end, Devers extended his to 12 consecutive games. Pivetta, on the other hand, picked up his first home win of the year while lowering his ERA on the season to 4.22.

Next up: Welcoming in the Mariners

The Red Sox will next welcome the Mariners into town for the start of a four-game weekend series on Thursday night. Veteran left-hander Rich Hill will be getting the start for Boston while rookie right-hander George Kirby will be doing the same for Seattle.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.

(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Former Red Sox utility man Marwin Gonzalez added to Astros’ World Series roster

In a surprising turn of events, former Red Sox utility man Marwin Gonzalez was added to the Astros’ World Series roster on Tuesday, shortly before their clash against the Braves begins at Minute Maid Park.

Gonzalez was left off both Houston’s American League Division Series and Championship Series rosters, but was added to the club’s World Series squad on account of rookie outfielder Jake Meyers being sidelined with a left shoulder injury.

The versatile 32-year-old initially signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the Red Sox right at the beginning of spring training in late February and opened the 2021 season on their Opening Day roster.

While he got consistent playing time all over the field, Gonzalez struggled to the tune of a .205/.286/.297 slash line to go along with 14 doubles, two home runs, 18 RBI, 23 runs scored, three stolen bases, 17 walks and 61 strikeouts over his first 70 games (246 plate appearances) with Boston before being placed on the 10-day injured list due to a right hamstring strain on July 16.

That hamstring strain held Gonzalez out of action for nearly a month, as the switch-hitter did not return to the Red Sox until early August and was later designated for assignment on Aug. 13 as a result of his prolonged offensive struggles.

After clearing waivers and becoming a free agent, Gonzalez inked a minor-league pact with his former team in the Astros on Aug. 27 and had his contract selected by the big-league club nine days later.

Revered in Houston for helping the Astros win their first World Series title over the Dodgers in 2017, Gonzalez went 5-for-34 (.176) at the plate with three homers, eight RBI, five runs scored, one walk, and eight strikeouts across 14 games before the regular season ended on October 3.

While Gonzalez has not played in a game in over three weeks, he can still provide value to the Astros in the upcoming Fall Classic as someone who hits from both sides of the plate, play a plethora of defensive positions, and is well-versed in postseason baseball.

“The decision was Meyers is not healthy to play,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said on Tuesday. “Marwin is a switch-hitter. He gives me a lot of flexibility in positions, and he has World Series experience, so you know he’s not going to be like in awe of the game or the situation.”

Gonzalez is not in Houston’s lineup for Game 1 of this best-of-seven World Series against the Braves, but he could be used more during the portion of this series that will take place in a National League Ballpark — where pitchers hit — in Atlanta.

(Picture of Marwin Gonzalez: Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Red Sox sticking with same lineup they used in Game 3 for Game 4 of ALCS vs. Astros

Why fix what isn’t broken?

After mashing their way to a 12-3 win over the Astros in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series on Monday, the Red Sox are running back the same exact starting lineup for Tuesday night’s Game 4 at Fenway Park.

With veteran right-hander Zack Greinke on the mound for Houston, Boston will have the opportunity to take a three-games-to-one lead in this best-of-seven series.

Kyle Schwarber, after belting a grand slam on Monday, will once again be leading off and starting at first base for the Sox on Tuesday. He will be followed by center fielder Enrique Hernandez, third baseman Rafael Devers, shortstop Xander Bogaerts, and left fielder Alex Verdugo.

Verdugo batting fifth means designated hitter J.D. Martinez has dropped down to the six-hole once more, while right fielder Hunter Renfroe, catcher Christian Vazquez, and second baseman Christian Arroyo round out the lineup.

Vazquez will be catching righty Nick Pivetta, who Red Sox manager Alex Cora named as his Game 4 starter following Monday’s blowout victory.

Pivetta will be making his first career postseason start come Tuesday night after only being used as a reliever on two separate occasions during the American League Division Series against the Rays.

In those two outings, the 28-year-old hurler turned in a pair of solid performances in Games 1 and 3, posting a 3.12 ERA and 4.67 FIP to go along with 11 strikeouts to three walks over 8 2/3 total innings of work.

Over the course of the regular season, Pivetta faced off against the Astros only once, and that came in Houston back on June 2. He allowed two runs on three hits, two walks, one hit batsman and nine strikeouts in six innings during that outing at Minute Maid Park.

Greinke, on the other hand, last started a game for the Astros on September 19, as he was used out of their bullpen just once and tossed a scoreless fourth inning in Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the White Sox on October 10.

Like Pivetta, Greinke made one start against his upcoming opponent during the regular season. On June 10 at Fenway Park, the soon-to-be 38-year-old surrendered four runs to the Red Sox on seven hits, one walk, and two strikeouts over three uninspiring innings.

With all that being said, first pitch from Fenway on Tuesday night is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. eastern time on FS1.

(Picture of Enrique Hernandez and Kyle Schwarber: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Nick Pivetta to start Game 4 of ALCS vs. Astros opposite Zack Greinke

Nick Pivetta will start Game 4 of the American League Championship Series for the Red Sox when they go up against the Astros at Fenway Park on Tuesday night.

Sox manager Alex Cora made the announcement following his side’s 12-3 thumping of the Astros in Game 3 of the ALCS on Monday, which gives them a two-games-to-one lead in this best-of-seven series.

Tuesday will mark Pivetta’s first career postseason start. He was available to be used out of the bullpen on Monday, but a nine-run blowout in favor of the Red Sox did not necessitate such a move.

The Canadian-born right-hander has undertaken a pivotal role within the Boston bullpen so far this October — even going back to the final game of the regular season against the Nationals in D.C. on Oct. 3.

Through two relief appearances in these playoffs, both of which came against the Rays in the American League Division Series, Pivetta has put up a 3.12 ERA and 4.67 FIP to go along with 11 strikeouts to three walks over 8 2/3 total innings of work.

While the Sox dropped Game 1 of the ALDS to the Rays at Tropicana Field, Pivetta was able to provide his club with 4 2/3 solid innings in relief of starter Eduardo Rodriguez, which allowed them to preserve the rest of their bullpen.

In Game 3 last Sunday, Pivetta’s name was called upon once again. This time around, the 28-year-old took over in the 10th inning of a 4-4 game and proceeded to hurl four scoreless frames of relief before Christian Vazquez walked it off in the bottom half of the 13th.

Pivetta earned his first-ever postseason win for his efforts last weekend, as he had just thrown 8 2/3 innings and 140 pitches (90 strikes) in two different cities within the span of 72 hours.

As he prepares for what will be his first start in a league championship series, Pivetta will be working on eight days rest come Tuesday night.

The 6-foot-5, 214 pounder last faced the Astros in Houston back on June 2 and held them to two runs on three hits, two walks, and nine strikeouts in six innings, though he was ultimately charged with the loss.

Opposing Pivetta in Game 4 will be Astros right-hander Zack Greinke, who will also be making his first start of the postseason after only making one appearance as a reliever in Game 3 of the ALDS against the White Sox.

With all that being said, first pitch from Fenway Park on Tuesday is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. eastern time on FS1. The Red Sox are just two wins away from advancing to the World Series.

(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Red Sox tab Eduardo Rodriguez to start Game 3 of ALCS vs. Astros; Nick Pivetta likely to start Game 4

Eduardo Rodriguez will start Game 3 of the American League Championship Series for the Red Sox as they go up against the Astros at Fenway Park on Monday night.

Sox manager Alex Cora made the announcement while speaking to reporters during an optional workout at Fenway Park on Sunday afternoon. He had previously declined to name a starter for Game 3 following Boston’s 9-5 win over Houston in Game 2 to even up the ALCS at one game apiece on Saturday.

Rodriguez, come Monday night, will be making his third start of the postseason and second straight at home. Through his first two outings, the left-hander has posted a 5.40 ERA, but a much more encouraging 1.97 FIP, to go along with seven strikeouts to just two walks over 6 2/3 total innings of work.

After struggling in his start against the Rays in the opening contest of the ALDS on October 7, Rodriguez bounced back in an encouraging way by limiting Tampa Bay to two runs on three hits, zero walks, and five strikeouts in five solid innings in the fourth and final game of the division series last Monday.

While the 28-year-old southpaw had been available out of the bullpen in Houston over the weekend, he ultimately was not used, thus allowing Cora to pencil him in as his Game 3 starter.

The last time the Red Sox faced off against the Astros in an ALCS three years ago, Rodriguez appeared in two games as a reliever and only faced a total of four batters, so there really is not much to go off there.

This time around, Rodriguez will be matched up against Houston right-hander Jose Urquidy to kick things off in Game 3 on Monday night. First pitch is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. eastern time on FS1.

As for who will start Game 4 for Boston on Tuesday, Cora indicated that responsibility will likely fall to Nick Pivetta. The right-hander will however be available to pitch in relief of Rodriguez out of the Sox bullpen on Monday if needed.

(Picture of Eduardo Rodriguez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox squander lead, let scoring opportunities go to waste in 5-4 loss to Astros in Game 1 of ALCS

The Red Sox certainly had their opportunities, but were ultimately unable to come away with a come-from-behind win over the Astros in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.

Boston fell to Houston by a final score of 5-4 at Minute Maid Park on Friday night, meaning they now trail in this best-of-seven ALCS by one game to none.

Chris Sale, making his second start of the postseason for the Sox, saw his October struggles continue after a poor showing in last week’s American League Division Series against the Rays, though there were some signs of encouragement.

Over just 2 2/3 innings of work on Friday, Sale allowed one run on five hits, one walk, and one hit batsman to go along with two strikeouts on the night.

The lone run Sale surrendered came in the bottom half of the first, when — after the Red Sox left the bases loaded in their half of the inning — the veteran left-hander issued a leadoff walk to Jose Altuve that was followed by a one-out single from Alex Bregman.

A wild pitch from Sale allowed both of those runners to advance an additional 90 feet, and the Astros took full advantage of that miscue when Yordan Alvarez drove in the first run of the contest on a sacrifice fly to left field.

While the Sox may have fallen behind early, their potent lineup eventually got to Astros starter Framber Valdez the second time through the order beginning in the third inning.

There, moments after he bailed out Sale by making a sprawling grab in center field to escape a bases-loaded jam, Enrique Hernandez stayed hot at the plate by cranking a 448-foot leadoff home run off Valdez.

Hernandez’s solo shot knotted things up at one run apiece, while a one-out walk from Xander Bogaerts that was followed by a line-drive single off the bat of Rafael Devers put runners at first and second base for J.D. Martinez.

Martinez, a former Astro like Hernandez, nearly grounded into another double play that would have ended the inning, but his grounder was instead booted by Altuve at second base, which allowed Bogaerts to score all the way from second to give the Sox their first lead of the night at 2-1.

Hunter Renfroe kept the rally going with a hard-hit RBI double to left field that plated Devers and moved Martinez up to second, though neither runner was able to score after Alex Verdugo and Christian Arroyo both struck out swinging.

Given a two-run lead to work with going into the bottom of the third, Sale retired Bregman before Alvarez and the dangerous Carlos Correa ripped back-to-back one-out singles off him. The lefty then fanned Kyle Tucker on five pitches for the second out, but that would mark the end of his night with the right-handed hitting Yuli Gurriel looming in the on-deck circle for Houston.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 61 (37 strikes), the 32-year-old hurler relied heavily upon his four-seam fastball (57% usage) and slider (33% usage), as he only threw four changeups and two sinkers. He did, however, top out at 97.5 mph with his four-seamer.

In relief of Sale, Adam Ottavino got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen from manager Alex Cora, and he officially closed the book on Sale’s outing by getting Gurriel to ground out to second before retiring the side in order in the fourth as well.

From there, while the Boston bats continued to struggle against the Houston bullpen, Josh Taylor recorded the first two outs of the fifth inning before Ryan Brasier was deployed to finish it in the process of stranding a pair of runners.

Fellow right-hander Tanner Houck took over for Brasier in the sixth, and he saw his side’s 3-1 advantage wiped off the board when he yielded a one-out single to Chas McCormick that was followed by a game-tying, two-run home run to Altuve that traveled 382 feet into the Crawford Boxes in left-center field.

More two-out trouble came back to bite the Sox an inning later, with Hansel Robles serving up a go-ahead 350-foot blast to Correa that allowed the Astros to retake a 4-3 lead.

In the top of the eighth, Renfroe was pinch-hit for by Danny Santana, who led things off against Kendall Graveman by striking out swinging on nine pitches. Verdugo then flew out to center field, but Arroyo kept the inning alive by drilling a 106.8 mph single to left field.

That sequence prompted Cora to turn to his bench, as he had the left-handed hitting Travis Shaw pinch-hit for the right-handed hitting Christian Vazquez in that spot.

Shaw, representing the potential go-ahead run himself, proceeded to lift a 335-foot flyball to right field off Graveman, but it was one that was caught by Tucker at the warning track, thus extinguishing the threat.

Hirokazu Sawamura, meanwhile, was responsible for the bottom of the eighth, and in his first action of the postseason, struggled to find his command of the strike zone.

The righty loaded the bases with no outs by issuing a leadoff walk and a single before plunking Martin Maldonado. He then allowed the Astros to tack on a very important insurance run when he gave up a sacrifice fly to Altuve that Gurriel was able to score on to make it a 5-3 game.

Martin Perez had to come on to get the final two outs of the eighth, and he did that by inducing an inning-ending double play off the bat of a hobbled Michael Brantley.

Down to their final three outs in the ninth while opposed by Astros closer Ryan Pressly, Hernandez led things off by clubbing his second home run of the night and one that cut the Sox’ deficit down to one run at 5-4.

Pressly did recover, however, as he got Kyle Schwarber, Bogaerts, and Devers to each ground out to seal a 5-4 defeat for Boston in which they went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position while leaving nine runners on base as a team.

With the loss, not only do the Red Sox see their three-game postseason winning streak come to an end, but they also find themselves in a 1-0 hole in regards to this ALCS.

Next up: Eovaldi vs. Garcia

The Red Sox will send Houston-area native Nathan Eovaldi to the mound as they look to even up this best-of-seven series against the Astros on Saturday afternoon.

The Astros will counter with fellow right-hander Luis Garcia, who held the Sox to one run over seven impressive innings during his June 1 start against them at Fenway Park.

First pitch from Minute Maid Park on Saturday is scheduled for 4:20 p.m. eastern time on FOX and FS1.

(Picture of Enrique Hernandez and Carlos Correa: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

J.D. Martinez batting fifth for Red Sox in Game 1 of ALCS vs. Astros

The Red Sox have made some slight alterations to their starting lineup for Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against the Astros at Minute Maid Park on Friday night.

After batting sixth for all three of his starts in the American League Division Series with the Rays, designated hitter J.D. Martinez has moved up to the No. 5 spot in the Sox’ lineup for Friday’s ALCS opener in Houston.

While still recuperating from a left ankle sprain that he sustained in Boston’s regular season finale against the Nationals on October 3, Martinez — after being held out of action in Game 1 — went 7-for-15 (.467) with one double, one home run, four RBI, one run scored, zero walks, and one strikeout in the final three games of the ALDS, all of which the Red Sox won.

With left-hander Framber Valdez getting the start for the Astros to kick off this best-of-seven series, Sox manager Alex Cora has gone with a primarily right-handed heavy lineup.

Enrique Hernandez, a former Astro, will lead off and get the start in center field, while Kyle Schwarber will bat second and start at first base. Schwarber starting at first base means the right-handed hitting Bobby Dalbec will start Game 1 on the Sox’ bench.

Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, and Martinez make up the most dangerous portion of Boston’s batting order.

Those three will be followed by the likes of right fielder Hunter Renfroe, left fielder Alex Verdugo, second baseman Christian Arroyo, and — last but not least — Christian Vazquez.

Vazquez, of course, will be catching Game 1 starter Chris Sale, who will be looking to bounce back from a rough outing against Tampa Bay in Game 2 of the ALDS in which he surrendered five runs (all earned) on four hits, one walk, and two strikeouts in just one inning of work at Tropicana Field last week.

The roof will be closed at Minute Maid Park on Friday night. First pitch is scheduled for 8:07 p.m. eastern time on FOX.

(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Elsa/Getty Images)

Red Sox to take on Astros in ALCS

For the second time in the last four seasons, the Red Sox will be taking on the Astros in the American League Championship Series.

After the Red Sox knocked off the Rays from the American League Division Series in four games at Fenway Park on Monday night, the Astros did the very same to the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on Tuesday.

Boston walked off on Tampa Bay to to punch their ticket to the ALCS, while Houston trounced Chicago by a final score of 10-1 to advance to their fifth consecutive championship series going back to 2017.

With that, the Red Sox and the Astros are the last two teams standing in the American League, setting up a rematch of the 2018 ALCS that Boston won in a convincing five games.

At this time three years ago, though, the Sox had homefield advantage in that series. That will not be the case this year after the Astros won their division by finishing with a 95-67 record in the regular season.

Over the course of the regular season, the Astros won the season series against the Red Sox, 5-2. They took three of four from them at Minute Maid Park from May 31 through June 3 before taking two of three at Fenway Park the following week.

The Red Sox will presumably board a flight to Houston on Wednesday and participate in a workout at Minute Maid Park on Thursday before kicking off this best-of-seven ALCS on Friday night.

Here is the full schedule. Note that pitching matchups have yet to be determined:

Game 1 – Friday, Oct. 15, 8:07 p.m. eastern time — Red Sox @ Astros — FOX

Game 2 – Saturday, Oct. 16, TBA — Red Sox @ Astros — FOX or FS1

Game 3 – Monday, Oct. 18, TBA — Astros @ Red Sox — FS1

Game 4 – Tuesday, Oct. 19, TBA — Astros @ Red Sox — FS1

Game 5 (if necessary) – Wednesday, Oct. 20, TBA — Astros @ Red Sox — FS1

Game 6 (if necessary) – Friday, Oct. 22, TBA — Red Sox @ Astros — FS1

Game 7 (if necessary) – Saturday, Oct. 23, TBA — Red Sox @ Astros — FOX or FS1

(Picture of Hunter Renfroe and Christian Arroyo: Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Martín Pérez tosses 7 2/3 scoreless innings, Christian Arroyo crushes 3-run homer as Red Sox salvage series against Astros with 5-1 win

Powered by Martin Perez’s strongest showing of the season to date, the Red Sox were able to avoid a four-game sweep and salvage their series against the Astros with a 5-1 victory at Minute Maid Park on Thursday.

Perez, making his 11th start of the season, pitched into the eighth inning for the first time in his Red Sox career.

Over 7 2/3 impressive frames of work, the veteran left-hander kept the Astros off the board while scattering just six hits and one walk to go along with four strikeouts on the afternoon.

Five of the six hits Perez gave up were singles. The only extra-base hit was snuffed out right away when he yielded a two-out double to Aledmys Diaz and immediately picked him off trying to steal third base.

The fifth inning presented a little bit more trouble for Perez when he put on two of the first three hitters he faced in the frame. Nevertheless, the southpaw got Myles Straw to pop out to the infield before inducing an inning-ending grounder off the bat of Garrett Stubbs. Bobby Dalbec made a nice diving play on the ball and Perez did a quality job of getting over to first base in time.

From there, Perez held things in check. But a one-out single and two-out walk — his first free pass of the contest — in the bottom of the eighth would mark the end of his outing.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 82 (59 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler improved to 4-2 on the year while lowering his ERA down to 3.09. His next start should come against this same Astros team back at Fenway Park next Tuesday.

In relief of Perez, Adam Ottavino got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen and needed all of five pitches to record the final out of the inning.

With a five-run lead going into the last of the ninth, the Sox were able to go to Brandon Workman to close this one out on the same they promoted him from Triple-A Worcester.

Workman served up a solo homer to Yuli Gurriel, but was otherwise up to the challenge of preserving a 5-1 win for his side.

Red Sox offense wakes up

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar foe in the form of Astros right-hander Jake Odorizzi.

Unlike the first three games of this series, the Boston bats were actually able to take advantage of early scoring opportunities.

That being the case because with no outs and runners on first and second in the top of the second, a resurgent Christian Arroyo crushed his first home run of the season on a hanging cutter from Odorizzi.

Arroyo’s three-run shot traveled 339 feet over the left field fence and had an exit velocity of 93.2 mph off the bat. It also cleared the bases and gave the Red Sox a 3-0 advantage early on.

Fast forward to the seventh, and the Sox found themselves in a nearly-identical situation.

With no outs and runners at second and third, Xander Bogaerts put an end to one of the worst offensive skids of his career (0-for-his-last-24) by lacing a two-run double off Astros reliever Cristian Javier. He also singled in the ninth to finish the day with his first multi-hit game since May 21.

Bogaerts’ seventh-inning two-base hit put the Red Sox up 5-0 and, as previously mentioned, 5-1 would go on to be Thursday’s final score.

By breaking out of a three-game losing streak, the Sox improve to 33-23 on the season (17-10) on the season to get back to 10 games over .500. They remain two games back of the Rays for first place in the American League East.

Alex Cora ejected

Red Sox manager Alex Cora was ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the sixth inning. He was tossed by home plate umpire Lance Barrett after Kevin Plawecki struck out looking on a questionable third called strike.

Cora has now been ejected two times this season, with Thursday marking his first ejection since April 15. Bench coach Will Venable took over managerial responsibilities for the remainder of the ballgame.

Next up: Big weekend series in the Bronx

The Red Sox will depart Houston for New York, where they will open up a three-game weekend series against the 31-26 Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Friday night.

Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will get the ball for Boston in the opener, and he will be opposed by fellow righty Michael King for New York.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Christian Arroyo: Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Lifeless Red Sox drop third straight to Astros, 2-1; Nick Pivetta hit with first loss of season despite striking out 9 over 6 innings

A stagnant Red Sox offense was once again held in check by the Astros at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday night.

Houston starter Framber Valdez gave Boston a chance to get something going immediately in the first inning. The left-hander loaded the bases with two outs and walked in a run by issuing a free pass to Hunter Renfroe.

Bobby Dalbec was presented with the opportunity to do some more damage in his first at-bat of the night, but he grounded out sharply to shortstop to extinguish the threat.

As it would later turn out, that lone run is all the Sox could get off of Valdez, as the southpaw settled in after a rough first inning and strung together six straight scoreless frames to get through seven strong when all was said and done.

The Boston bats did not fare much better against the Astros’ bullpen, with all three of Alex Verdugo, J.D. Martinez, and Xander Bogaerts lining out to center field against reliever Ryne Stanek in the top half of the eighth.

In the top half of the ninth, a one-out single from Renfroe and two-out single from Vazquez off Astros closer Ryan Pressly provided the Red Sox with some late life and the chance to at least tie things up at two runs apiece.

Alas, Christian Arroyo hit a broken-bat pop-up to the infield, and 2-1 would go on to be Wednesday’s final score.

By dropping their third consecutive contest to the Astros, the Red Sox fall to 32-23 on the season (16-10 on the road), yet still remain two games back of the Rays for first place in the American League East.

Pivetta grinds through first two innings, winds up turning in solid performance

Red Sox starter Nick Pivetta needed 57 pitches to get through the first two innings of his 11th start of the season on Wednesday. Like Valdez, he also put himself in a bases-loaded jam right away in the first, but got out of it having allowed just one run.

From that point, though, the right-hander locked in and put together one of his best outings of the year to this point all things considered.

Over six innings in total, Pivetta yielded two runs — both earned — on three hits and two walks to go along with nine strikeouts on the night.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 111 (72 strikes) to set a new season-high, the 28-year-old was ultimately hit with his first loss of the year — and his first since coming over to the Red Sox from the Phillies last August. His next start should come against the Marlins back at Fenway Park on Monday.

Red Sox bullpen takes over

In relief of Pivetta, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez tossed a perfect seventh inning while Hirokazu Sawamura and Josh Taylor combined to toss a scoreless bottom of the eighth with the help of Christian Vazquez snuffing out Alex Bregman at second base.

Next up: Perez vs. Odorizzi

The Red Sox will send left-hander Martin Perez to the hill on Thursday afternoon as they look to halt this three-game losing streak, avoid a sweep and in turn end an otherwise forgettable series against the Astros on a positive note.

Perez will be opposed by veteran right-hander and his former Twins rotation mate Jake Odorizzi for Houston.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 2:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Bob Levey/Getty Images)