HOUSTON (AP)—Lance Berkman refused to let a trio of strikeouts get him down.
The Houston slugger atoned for them with a two-run double in the eighth inning Saturday night to lift the Astros to an 11-10 win over the Boston Red Sox.
“I strike out 100 or more times a year, so three is not any insurmountable challenge,” said Berkman, now batting .366 this season.
“Once you’re tied at home, it’s anybody’s game,” Berkman said. “I’m glad that even after Ty hit the home run, we were able to produce the winning rally instead of languishing around for an hour or so in extra innings.”
Delcarmen hadn’t allowed a run in his last 11 appearances, a span of 13 2-3 innings.
“I didn’t feel any different than I have,” he said. “My velocity was there. The pitch to Berkman was a good pitch. You can throw it well, but in baseball, it’ll happen sometimes.”
Berkman struck out three times against Boston starter Jon Lester, whom he had never faced. He was happy to see the left-hander leave after the fifth inning, Lester’s shortest outing in a month.
Batting left-handed, Berkman triggered the late comeback with an RBI single in the seventh off Craig Hansen.
“The one major difference was that Lester was off the mound,” Berkman said. “It’s batting right-handed for all three to going over to the left side, where I’m more comfortable.”
The Astros made it 9-8 when a pitch by Hansen skipped by Varitek, allowing Pence to score.
Kevin Youkilis had two hits and three RBIs and Manny Ramirez had a two-run double for the Red Sox. Dustin Pedroia continued a torrid month with four hits and an RBI, but Boston got an unusually poor performance from Lester, who gave up six runs on nine hits.
Lester had allowed two runs or fewer in his last four starts and hadn’t given up more than four all season.
“I felt great,” said Lester, who threw a season-low 76 pitches. “I thought I threw better than the line. When I went out and looked at the scoreboard, I thought I threw a hell of a lot better than the score said.”
The Red Sox scored four runs in the third inning off Houston starter Brandon Backe, all with two outs. Pedroia started it with a single and J.D. Drew walked before Ramirez doubled for a 2-0 lead. Lowell followed with an RBI double that hit the top of the left-field scoreboard, inches from a home run, and Youkilis scored Lowell with a single to right.
Lester gave up three hits in the first two innings, then started the third by hitting Backe on the foot with a pitch. Michael Bourn beat out a bunt when Lowell bobbled the barehanded pickup and Pence advanced the runners with a groundout.
After Lester struck out Berkman for the second time, Lee singled to center to make it 4-2.
Miguel Tejada then hit a hard grounder off Lester’s left foot. Lester bent over and athletic trainer Paul Lessard and manager Terry Francona ran out of the dugout to check on him. Lester threw two warmup pitches and said he was ready to continue, but Loretta hit his next pitch into the left-field porch to give Houston its first lead of the series at 5-4.
“You’ve got to tip your hat to Loretta,” Lester said. “He was looking middle and in and I threw the ball right there.”
Lee tacked on another run in the fifth with his 18th homer, a solo drive to left.
“We made some mistakes out over the plate and they hit every one of them,” Francona said.
But the Red Sox still seemed to be in control after scoring five runs in the sixth, chasing Backe and retaking the lead off reliever Geoff Geary.
After Geary relieved Backe, Pedroia tied it with a single, his 17th hit in his last 26 at-bats. Boston loaded the bases for Lowell, who had a sacrifice fly, and Youkilis followed with a double to make it 9-6.
Berkman struck out three times in a game for the third time this season. … Boston’s pitchers are 0-for-22 at the plate with 16 strikeouts in interleague play. … Ellsbury started in CF for Coco Crisp, who began serving a five-game suspension for his role in a bench-clearing brawl in a June 5 game against Tampa Bay.