Red Sox rely on red-hot Buchholz in opener with Astros

Texas-born right-hander Clay Buchholz can add to what's already been a glittering start to 2013 on Thursday night when his Boston Red Sox host the Houston Astros in the first of four games at Fenway Park.

A native of Nederland, Texas and a product of Angelina (Texas) Junior College, Buchholz has won all four starts to begin the season while allowing just three runs in 30 innings.

Buchholz tossed eight innings of two-run ball in his most recent start on April 20 against Kansas City, picking up a 4-3 win while his earned run average actually soared from 0.41 to 0.90.

He's struck out 29 batters and walked 11, while allowing an opposition batting average of .184.

Buchholz has never faced the Astros.

Houston goes with veteran lefty Philip Humber, who was the third overall selection by the New York Mets in the 2004 draft.

Humber made five appearances with the Mets in 2006-07 and also pitched for Minnesota, Kansas City and the Chicago White Sox before landing in Houston to begin 2013 after being waived.

He'll make $800,000 this season, with a team option to either pay him $3 million next season or take a $500,000 buyout.

Humber, who's 2-2 in his career against the Red Sox, has allowed 25 hits and 14 runs in 19 innings across four 2013 starts.

He's won two career starts at Fenway while posting a 3.95 earned run average.

On Wednesday in Houston, Brandon Laird went 3-for-4 with two doubles and a home run to go along with four RBI and Ronny Cedeno had three hits including a three-run shot as the Astros eased past the Seattle Mariners, 10-3, in the rubber match of a three-game series at Minute Maid Park.

Chris Carter hit a solo homer, while Matt Dominguez had two hits and drove in a pair of runs for the Astros, who have won two straight.

Lucas Harrell (2-2) fanned five batters and gave up one run on six hits over seven innings in the victory. The Astros also picked up their second series win of the young season, although four of the team's seven overall victories have come versus Seattle.

In Boston, Daniel Nava had a pinch-hit RBI single which proved to be the eventual game-winner as part of a three-run fifth inning, and the Red Sox survived with a 6-5 win over the Oakland Athletics to take the three-game series at Fenway Park.

David Ortiz and Shane Victorino also drove in runs in the decisive fifth frame for Boston, which responded well after dropping Tuesday's contest, 13-0. Stephen Drew added two RBI.

Jon Lester (4-0) remained perfect on the season despite walking six batters in 5 2/3 innings of work. He also allowed three runs and struck out five.

The Red Sox swept a three-game series in Houston when the teams last met in 2007.