Houston, TX – Ryan Lavarnway went from a putrid start behind the plate to driving in the go-ahead run in the fifth inning, and the Boston Red Sox went on to pound the Houston Astros, 15-10, in the middle test of three games at Minute Maid Park.
Lavarnway allowed four passed balls in the first inning while catching starter Steven Wright, but atoned for his mistakes with a two-out double to left- center field to give the Red Sox their first lead at 8-7.
Houston scored three runs in that first inning and held a 7-3 lead after four, but Jordan Lyles (4-6) couldn't protect it, yielding five runs in the fifth and eight in all to drop his fifth straight decision.
The Red Sox, winners in eight of 11, received a pinch-hit three-run homer from Jonny Gomes in the sixth to cap another five-run inning. Jacoby Ellsbury had a pair of homers, while David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia knocked in two runs apiece.
"A lot of good things are going on around here," said Ortiz. "We've got guys coming in here hungry everyday and try to make things happen."
Wright's first start of his career lasted just one inning, as he struggled to command his knuckleball. Brandon Workman (2-1) wasn't exactly effective in relief -- charged with six runs in 4 2/3 innings -- but still got the win.
Boston erased its four-run deficit by starting off the fifth with a bang. Its first four batters reached base and scored a pair of runs on back-to-back doubles from Shane Victorino and Pedroia.
Mike Carp pulled the Red Sox within 7-6 by knocking in Pedroia from third with a groundout. A wild pitch from Lyles preceded a walk to Stephen Drew, and with runners at the corners, Lavarnway cleared the bags to put the visitors ahead.
"Offense came up tonight, put up some big numbers and I just let it go," said Lyles. "I made the bullpen throw a lot of innings. It was just a tough game to watch for a lot of people."
The Red Sox then created some breathing room an inning later when they again put their first four batters on base. Pedroia and Ortiz each had RBI singles and Gomes made it 13-7 with a three-run homer later in the frame.
Two of Lavarnway's passed balls resulted in scoring plays in the first inning. Robbie Grossman's two-run homer for Houston in the second inning gave the hosts a 5-0 lead. He knocked in his third run in the home sixth and Jose Altuve added an RBI as well to make 13-9, but the Astros never came closer.
Ellsbury clubbed his second homer to start the seventh and Gomes recorded his fourth RBI with a bases loaded single to give Boston a comfortable six-run cushion.
Lavarnway's four passed balls tied an MLB record. The feat has occurred three times since 1900, with the last happening in August 22, 1987 when Geno Petralli caught Texas pitcher Charlie Hough ... Ortiz went 4-for-4 and Victorino had three hits with four runs scored ... Brett Wallace homered and knocked in two runs for the Astros, losers in five of their last six games ... Houston shortstop Jonathan Villar went 2-for-2 with an RBI, but injured his thumb in the sixth and was replaced by Jake Elmore, who hit a solo homer in the eighth ... Boston matched last season's win total (69) with the victory on Tuesday ... The Red Sox are 12-3 all-time against the Astros ... Gomes tied a franchise record with his fourth pinch-hit home run of the season.