for this game

Loretta's pinch-hit RBI helps Astros edge Red Sox

Jun 29, 2008 - 11:09 PM By Andrew Ferraro PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Mark Loretta only needed one at-bat to make his former team pay.

With two outs in the eighth inning, Loretta lined an RBI single into center field to score Miguel Tejada and give the resurgent Houston Astros a 3-2 win over the Boston Red Sox on Sunday.

After Tejada hit a one-out single to right center, reliever Hideki Okajima threw a wild pitch to put Tejada in scoring position. After inducing a groundout by Geoff Blum, Loretta got the Astros' 10th hit of the game.

"(Okajima) throws a good changeup and I was just sitting on it," Loretta said. "I was kind of a bit in front of it, but I got around on it enough to get it out there."

It was Houston's third straight series win (6-3) and first series win over the Red Sox, who swept the Astros at Fenway Park in 2003. Boston, which had won four of six entering Sunday, fell out of first place in the American League East for the first time in 25 days.

Okajima has allowed 12 of his last 15 inherited runners to score.

"He actually made some good pitches to Loretta, worked ahead, got a couple of swings, seeing Loretta protect the plate," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "Then he left an off-speed pitch up over the middle of the plate and Loretta rifled it through the middle for the deciding run. He just left it up, which has happened a few times."

The Red Sox (50-34), who fell to 2-10 in one-run road games, trail the Tampa Bay Rays (49-32) by a half-game in the American League East standings.

Reliever Doug Brocail (4-3) pitched 1 2/3 innings in relief to pick up the win for the Astros, who will continue a 10-game homestand this week against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Jose Valverde got the last three outs to pick up his second straight save in the series and 21st of the season.

"I think (Boston) is as good of a team as we have faced all year and to get a win against them is huge," Loretta said. "But we know that overall, we still have not played that well in June. We have to just take this for what it is and keep it going while we can."

Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek said Okajima might have been too worried about rebounding from a poor performance, thus putting too much pressure on himself in that situation.

"When your last few outings are rough, you tend to overcorrect and that, more so than the pitch (to Loretta), could have been a selection error," Varitek said. "I think once he gets a couple of clean outings in there, he is going to be fine. We can't let him lose any confidence."

Josh Beckett, pitching in his hometown for the first time since being traded from Florida to Boston, threw seven strong innings for the Red Sox.

Beckett was replaced by Aardsma (2-2) after allowing just two earned runs on eight hits, walking one and striking out four. Beckett had recorded at least seven strikeouts in his previous three starts against the Astros.

Houston starter Brian Moehler was lifted with two outs in the sixth inning and received a standing ovation for his efforts against one baseball's best teams.

After giving up just one earned run on seven hits and striking out five, Moehler gave way to Wesley Wright, who loaded the bases when he walked Jacoby Ellsbury. But Wright struck out Dustin Pedroia on three pitches to end the inning.

"I felt really, really comfortable throwing my curveball today and I think I had my changeup really working out there," Moehler said. "They have a really good lineup to throw out there and that is one of most patient lineups. They were really patient today. And all of their hitters were that way."

Moehler lost what could have been his fifth win when Manny Ramirez hammered a 1-2 pitch into the Houston bullpen in right-center to tie the game, 2-2 in the seventh.

Geoff Blum gave the Astros a 1-0 lead with two outs in the second inning when he connected off Beckett, sending a 2-0 pitch 365 feet into the right field stands.

Blum said Beckett was as good, if not better, than the last time he saw the fiery righthander.

"He threw really good against us today," Blum said. "I don't remember his (fast)ball cutting in on us as much as it did today. But he really did a good job of keeping us off-balance for the most part and he really stayed away from the big inning. On the homer, he tried to challenge me and I was able to catch up to it luckily."

"You have to get ahead of the hitter," Beckett said. "It's not too hard for a major league hitter to hit a fastball when he knows what is coming and that is exactly what (happened with Blum)."








  • ML
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    BOSTON 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 9 0
    HOUSTON 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 x 3 10 0 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: BOS - JOSH BECKETT, DAVID AARDSMA (8TH), HIDEKI OKAJIMA (8TH) AND
    JASON VARITEK
    HOU - BRIAN MOEHLER, WESLEY WRIGHT (6TH), OSCAR
    VILLARREAL (7TH), DOUG BROCAIL (7TH

    Jun 29 5:35 PM


  • ML
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY MARK LORETTA SCORED MIGUEL TEJADA.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, M LORETTA ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: BOSTON 2
    HOUSTON 3 BOTTOM, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: H QUINTERO (.250, 1-FOR-3)

    Red Sox 2, Astros 3  Bot 8, 0 OutsJun 29 5:21 PM
  • 84
    roots
    RUWTbot Took away 37 roots (Close Finish)

    Red Sox 2, Astros 3  Bot 8, 0 OutsJun 29 5:21 PM
  • 121
    roots
    vickdizang Added 5 roots

    Red Sox 2, Astros 2  Bot 8, 0 OutsJun 29 5:12 PM
  • 116
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 72 roots (Close Finish)

    Red Sox 2, Astros 2  Top 8, 0 OutsJun 29 5:00 PM


  • ML
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY MANNY RAMIREZ (16) TO RIGHT WITH 1 OUT IN
    THE 7TH OFF OSCAR VILLARREAL.
    CURRENT SCORE: BOSTON 2, HOUSTON 2
    DUE UP FOR BOSTON: M LOWELL (.295, 0-FOR-2, BB)

    Red Sox 2, Astros 2  Top 7, 0 OutsJun 29 4:36 PM


  • ML
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY LANCE BERKMAN SCORED MICHAEL BOURN.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, L BERKMAN ON FIRST, H PENCE ON THIRD, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: BOSTON 1
    HOUSTON 2 BOTTOM, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: C LEE (.281, 1-FOR-2)

    Red Sox 1, Astros 2  Bot 5, 0 OutsJun 29 3:58 PM
  • 44
    roots
    Elephande Added 5 roots

    Red Sox 1, Astros 1  Bot 5, 0 OutsJun 29 3:52 PM
  • 39
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 34 roots

    Red Sox 1, Astros 1  Bot 5, 0 OutsJun 29 3:43 PM
  • 5
    roots
    McTool Added 5 roots

    Red Sox 1, Astros 1  Bot 3, 0 OutsJun 29 3:12 PM


  • ML
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY DUSTIN PEDROIA (8) TO LEFT WITH 0 OUT IN
    THE 3RD OFF BRIAN MOEHLER.
    CURRENT SCORE: BOSTON 1, HOUSTON 1
    DUE UP FOR BOSTON: J DREW (.309, 0-FOR-0, BB)

    Red Sox 1, Astros 1  Top 3, 0 OutsJun 29 2:52 PM


  • ML
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY GEOFF BLUM (5) TO RIGHT WITH 2 OUT IN THE
    2ND OFF JOSH BECKETT.
    CURRENT SCORE: BOSTON 0, HOUSTON 1
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: T WIGGINTON (.277, 5 HR, 13 RBI)

    Red Sox 0, Astros 1  Bot 2, 0 OutsJun 29 2:48 PM