HOUSTON -- The Boston Red Sox have many games left to complete before the final chapter of their remarkable turnaround 2013 season can be written, a point driven home when manager John Farrell provided levity after he was asked to comment on his club matching 2012's victory total.
"I hope we pass last year," Farrell deadpanned.
Boston erased an early five-run deficit behind an unrelenting attack for a 15-10 win over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.
The Red Sox (69-46) slugged their way out of 5-0 and 7-3 holes. The top four batters in the Red Sox order -- Jacoby Ellsbury, Shane Victorino, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz -- paced the onslaught, finishing a combined 11-for-18 with 11 runs scored, seven RBIs and four walks.
The Astros (37-75) blanked the Red Sox 2-0 in the series opener on Monday night behind an unexpectedly strong bullpen performance. Houston relievers proved less effective in the middle game of this three-game set as Dallas Keuchel and Jose Cisnero combined to allow seven earned runs on five hits and four walks while recording just three outs.
The Red Sox sent nine batters to the plate in both the fifth and sixth innings and scored five runs in each frame to flip a 7-3 deficit into a 13-7 lead. Ellsbury sandwiched a pair of home runs around leadoff walks in the fifth and sixth while Ortiz went 4-for-4 with four singles and two RBIs. Jonny Gomes delivered a pinch-hit, three-run home run to cap the scoring in the sixth, a blow off Cisnero that provided some necessary insurance.
"There's a lot of good things going on around here," Ortiz said. "We've got guys coming in hungry every day, and they try to make things happen.
"This past week, we've had three or four wins from behind. That tells you that this is a team where it doesn't matter the situation at the beginning -- we're going to fight through it, come back and make things happen in the end."
Despite allowing six runs on nine hits and two walks over 4 2/3 innings, Boston right-hander Brandon Workman (2-1) earned the win in relief.
What was a nightmarish defensive first inning for Red Sox catcher Ryan Lavarnway was later forgotten, thanks to one timely swing of the bat.
Lavarnway was charged with four passed balls in the first while trying to corral the knuckleball of right-hander Steven Wright, who was making his first career start. Houston managed three runs on one hit while Lavarnway and Wright struggled, and the Astros' lead ballooned to 5-0 in the second when left fielder Robbie Grossman belted a two-run homer off Workman.
But Boston scored thrice in the third inning and chased Astros right-hander Jordan Lyles (4-6) in the fifth. And Lavarnway, who joined Geno Petralli and Ray Katt as the only catchers in major league history to be charged with four passed balls in one frame, struck the decisive blow, drilling a two-out, two-run double to left-center field that lifted Boston to an 8-7 lead.
"It was almost like the tale of two games," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "I tell you what: They did a good job of swinging the bat and we didn't do a good job of minimizing the damage."
Lyles allowed eight runs on nine hits and three walks over 4 2/3 innings. He was charged with a wild pitch and plunked a batter to continue a dreadful stretch where he has surrendered 28 runs over five starts.
"It's tough," Lyles said. "My bad outings have been bad, real bad. I'm just trying to stay away from them. The offense came out tonight and put up some big numbers, and I just let it go. I made the bullpen throw a lot of innings.
"It's just a tough game to watch for a lot of people. I didn't do my part tonight. When I have those bad outings, I have to limit teams to three or four runs. I let the game get out of hand."
NOTES: Red Sox RHP Clay Buchholz (neck strain) threw off a mound Tuesday, the first time he has done so since mid-July. He tossed 27 pitches at roughly 60-65 percent effort. Buchholz (9-0, 1.71 ERA) last appeared in a major league game June 8. ... The Astros feature the youngest roster in the majors with an average age of 25.7. The 13 rookies on the current roster are the most in the majors.