Red Sox-Astros Preview


The AL East-leading Boston Red Sox just showed how they can overcome a rough outing by one of their starters.

Ryan Dempster hopes he doesn't put his teammates in that position again.

The right-hander will try to rebound from one of his worst starts of the season Wednesday night as the Red Sox close their season series with the Houston Astros.

After their seven-game winning streak in this matchup ended with Monday's 2-0 defeat, the Red Sox (69-46) rallied from a 5-0 second-inning deficit Tuesday to win 15-10. David Ortiz went 4 for 4, Jonny Gomes hit a three-run homer and finished with four RBIs and Jacoby Ellsbury hit two out of the park as Boston overcame Steven Wright's shaky one-inning stint in his first major league start.

"We try not to give up until the game is over,'' Ortiz said.

The Red Sox, 1 1/2 games in front of second-place Tampa Bay in the East, lead the majors with 583 runs. They've plated double-digit runs 12 times, four coming when Dempster (6-8, 4.54 ERA) has started.

He has won three of those contests and owns one of the majors' highest run-support averages at 6.38. Boston has totaled 31 runs while winning Dempster's last four starts. He's 1-0 with a 7.20 ERA in that stretch after walking five and permitting a season high-tying seven runs in six innings of Thursday's 8-7 come-from-behind victory over Seattle.

Dempster, who threw six innings of two-run ball in a 7-3 win over the Astros (37-75) on April 26, hasn't pitched in Houston since 2011 while with the Chicago Cubs.

The Astros will try to win their first series since June 14-17 against the Chicago White Sox with rookie Jarred Cosart (1-0, 0.96) on the hill.

The right-hander, acquired from Philadelphia in the 2011 Hunter Pence deal, will make his second home start after becoming the first pitcher since Cincinnati's Wayne Simpson in 1970 to give up one earned run or fewer and throw at least six innings in each of his first four career appearances.

The Astros, though, have lost Cosart's last two starts.

"You can't worry about it," the 23-year-old told the Astros' official website after yielding one run in seven innings in Friday's 4-3, 13-inning loss at Minnesota.

However, there should be plenty of concern with the Astros' bullpen, which has a major league-worst 5.20 ERA after surrendering seven runs Tuesday following another ineffective outing by Jordan Lyles.

The Astros, though, have been getting some nice offensive performances from their rookies. Robbie Grossman drove in a season-best three runs Tuesday and has now hit safely in all nine games since his second recall from the minors.

Newcomer L.J. Hoes has back-to-back two-hit games and so does shortstop Jonathan Villar. However, Villar isn't expected to play after suffering a sprained left thumb.

Jake Elmore, who went 2 for 2 with a homer following Villar's exit, could start the series finale.

Boston's Dustin Pedroia drove in two runs and finished 2 for 5 on Tuesday, improving his career batting average versus Houston to .521 (25 for 48). The former MVP is 11 for 23 against the Astros this season, helping the Red Sox outscore Houston 43-22 while winning five of six.