Red Sox-Astros Preview

The Houston Astros have flexed their muscles in showing why they lead the majors in homers during this series with the Boston Red Sox.

They can complete their first sweep of Boston on Thursday night by sending the visiting Red Sox to a season-high eighth straight loss.

Houston (53-43) has outhomered Boston 4-0 through two games of this series. Struggling Chris Carter went deep in Tuesday's 8-3 victory, then Preston Tucker recorded his first career multihomer game and Evan Gattis also connected in Wednesday's 4-2 win to account for all of the runs for the Astros.

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"We ... scored all of our runs on the home run, which we can do that from time to time," said manager A.J. Hinch, whose team has hit 132 homers. "We've got a little bit of power."

The punchless Red Sox (42-53) have one homer during their losing streak and now try to avoid their first eight-game slide since Aug. 17-24. They are batting .192 with nine runs scored while going 8 for 45 with runners in scoring position in six games on this road trip, which ends Thursday.

"We just haven't put it together, and that is basically it," second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. "When we get guys on, we have to find a way to get them in."

Boston will get its second look at rookie Lance McCullers (4-3, 2.52 ERA), who allowed one run in five innings and did not get a decision in a 5-4 loss at Fenway Park on July 5. The right-hander has 71 strikeouts, most recently getting 10 on July 12 when he was charged with four runs over six innings in a 4-3 defeat at Tampa Bay.

McCullers is 3-0 with a 1.20 ERA in five home starts, including three straight victories.

The Red Sox will start Wade Miley (8-8, 4.49), who had a no-hitter through six and ended up allowing one hit in seven-plus scoreless innings in Friday's 1-0 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. He had a 6.88 ERA in his three previous outings.

"Wade was outstanding," manager John Farrell said. "He was aggressive and he threw a lot of strikes."

The left-hander is 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in three career starts versus the Astros. Jose Altuve is 5 for 9 with two doubles against him and Gattis is 3 for 5 with two doubles.

Altuve is riding a 15-game hitting streak at home, batting .389 with 15 runs. Rookie shortstop Carlos Correa is 9 for 24 during a season-best, seven-game hitting streak.

Pedroia had a double in four at-bats to improve to 1 for 22 in six games since missing 16 with a right hamstring strain. His double play partner, Xander Bogaerts, is 3 for 8 in this series and hitting .400 with 13 RBIs in 16 games in July.

Farrell plans to start Mookie Betts, who was benched Wednesday due to a 1-for-20 slump after the All-Star break. Betts batted .327 in his 12 games prior to it.

"He clearly got out of the rhythm and the routine and where he was doing such a good job with some hard, line-drive type contact (before the break)," Farrell told MLB's official website.