HOUSTON – Framber Valdez continued an impressive streak of starts by Houston pitchers on Wednesday night, and it helped the Astros to another win on a night the offense was held largely in check.
Valdez pitched seven strong innings and Kyle Tucker had two hits as the Astros handed Nick Pivetta his first loss of the season in a 2-1 win over the Boston Red Sox.
Valdez (1-0) yielded five hits and one run while striking out 10. He walked two in his second start of the season after missing the first two months after breaking his left index finger in spring training.
It's the seventh straight game in which Houston's starter has allowed just one run.
“Hopefully we can continue to pitch the way we have this last week," manager Dusty Baker said. “Starting pitching is the key and the deeper they go, the better it is for us."
Hunter Renfroe singled off Ryan Pressly with one out in the ninth before advancing to second on a two-out single by Christian Vázquez. But Pressly retired Christian Arroyo to get his eighth save.
Pivetta (6-1) allowed three hits and two runs in six innings. He struck out a season-high nine for the second straight game.
The Red Sox have had a tough time stringing hits together in this series, and the top four players in their order went 1 for 15 with five strikeouts on Wednesday night.
“We will turn it around," shortstop Xander Bogaerts said. “We’re putting in the work. It just isn’t working out now. It’s just a real bad time to be struggling, for me personally and for the team."
Carlos Correa doubled and Yuli Gurriel drove in a run to help the Astros to their fourth consecutive victory.
Valdez, who lasted just four innings in his season debut on Friday, started out a bit shaky on Wednesday before settling down. J.D. Martinez singled with two outs in the first before Bogaerts walked. Rafael Devers singled to load the bases before Valdez walked Renfroe, sending home a run and giving Boston a 1-0 lead.
Valdez got on a roll after that, retiring the next 11 batters before Arroyo singled with one out in the fifth.
“We were unable to do too much," manager Alex Cora said. “He kept the ball down, we kept missing his changeup, and he had a good breaking ball."
Baker is impressed with how quickly Valdez has returned to form after such a long absence.
“It’s a joy to watch him pitch and you feel confident with him on the mound whether it’s a right-hander or a left-hander," Baker said.
Jose Altuve drew a leadoff walk before Correa doubled to left field. There was one out in the inning when Pivetta plunked Yordan Alvarez on the foot. The Astros tied it when Altuve scored on a sacrifice fly by Gurriel. Tucker singled to load the bases, but rookie Robel Garcia struck out to end the inning.
Tucker doubled to start Houston’s fourth and took third on a wild pitch. There was one out in the inning when Tucker scored on a groundout by Myles Straw, making it 2-1.
Arroyo singled with two outs in the seventh, but Valdez ended his night by striking out Kiké Hernández to end the inning.
Astros: OF Michael Brantley (right hamstring soreness) is feeling better and could come off the injured list as soon as Friday. ... RHP Lance McCullers Jr. (right shoulder soreness) could throw a simulated game next week, but likely won’t come off the injured list until at least the middle of June.
OUT OF LEFT FIELD
Alvarez, normally Houston’s designated hitter, played left field for the first time since Game 5 of the 2019 World Series and the 11th time in his career on Wednesday night. The Astros needed his help in the outfield with Brantley out, and Baker said Alvarez has been practicing out there daily to prepare for the job.
He didn’t see much action and only had to make one catch on a routine fly ball in the fifth inning.
Houston’s Jake Odorizzi (0-2, 6.75 ERA) opposes Martín Pérez (3-2, 3.55) as the Astros look to complete the series sweep Thursday.
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