HOUSTON - The Houston Astros' beleaguered bullpen preserved a second consecutive stellar start from left-hander Brett Oberholtzer and sealed a 2-0 win over the Boston Red Sox Monday night at Minute Maid Park.
Houston (37-74) had been rudderless since trading closer Jose Veras to the Detroit Tigers on July 29 for minor league outfielder Danry Vasquez. But with Oberholtzer (2-0) working seven scoreless innings for the second time in six days, all that was required of Wesley Wright and Josh Fields was to record six outs against baseball's most prolific offense.
They did precisely that, but not without drama. Wright issued a leadoff walk to Jacoby Ellsbury in the eighth inning before David Ortiz added a two-out single to center field. Fields entered and struck out Mike Napoli, then went on to strike out the Boston (68-46) side in the ninth.
Fields became just the second pitcher on the current roster to record a save, joining starter Erik Bedard, who saved the season opener on March 31.
The Astros started generating traffic against Red Sox starter John Lackey (7-9) in the second inning, advancing runners into scoring position three consecutive frames before finally breaking through in the fifth inning.
Lackey relied on strikeouts to elude danger in the third and fourth. In the fifth, L.J. Hoes singled and stole second base, and Robbie Grossman ripped a first-pitch cutter into right field two batters later, driving home Hoes and snapping the scoreless tie.
The Astros doubled their 1-0 lead in the seventh inning when Brandon Barnes delivered a squeeze bunt off Junichi Tazawa that scored Hoes from third base.
NOTES: Red Sox OF Daniel Nava was placed on paternity leave and will miss the series against the Astros. Nava was with his wife when she gave birth to their daughter Monday morning. RHP Brandon Workman, who was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket last Wednesday, replaced Nava on the roster. Nava will return for the four-game series in Kansas City against the Royals beginning Thursday. ... Grossman made his second consecutive start batting first following his 2-for-5 effort Sunday against the Minnesota Twins. Grossman was batting .213 with a .320 on-base percentage in 27 starts atop the order entering Monday's game.