The start of a 10-game road trip didn't go as planned for the Boston Red Sox and they'll try to pull even with the lowly Houston Astros Tuesday at Minute Maid Park.
The Red Sox dropped a 2-0 decision to the Astros in Monday's series opener, as John Lackey suffered the hard-luck loss for giving up both runs in six innings. He struck out 10 batters and walked two.
"I thought John had very good stuff, good secondary stuff," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "He got some key strikeouts when he needed to, but on the other hand Oberholtzer threw the ball over the plate. He's a guy that's been proven in a very short period of time to throw strikes."
Dustin Pedroia had two of the five hits for Boston, which entered the night having won seven of nine games. Jacoby Ellsbury went 0-for-3 and had hit safely in his last 10 games.
Boston's lead atop the AL East is down to just a half-game ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays. The club is one win shy of matching last season's total (69-93).
The Red Sox hope Steven Wright can remain unbeaten in his rookie campaign Tuesday against an Astros club that is the worst in the majors. Wright has won two straight appearances and will make the first start of his career. He tossed three scoreless innings in Thursday's 8-7 win over Seattle and is 2-0 with a 3.65 ERA in three outings.
Wright is looking forward to facing the Astros in his first career start.
"I've had a million starts, but obviously it's my first one in the big leagues, which is exciting," Wright told the club's website. "It's something you look forward to your whole life."
Houston began the month of August with four straight losses and halted the slide by getting the best of Lackey. Robbie Grossman delivered an RBI single in the bottom of the fifth inning and Brandon Barnes lifted a sacrifice fly in the seventh to score L.J. Hoes.
Brett Oberholtzer threw seven shutout innings for the win and Josh Fields tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief to post his first save.
"I told myself before the game 'pound the strike zone, stay confident and take one pitch at a time,'" Oberholtzer said.
Jordan Lyles may want to take some of Oberholtzer's advice when he toes the rubber for the Astros Tuesday. Lyles is 0-4 with a 7.61 earned run average in his last seven starts -- all Houston losses -- and he allowed five runs, three of which were earned, in 5 2/3 innings of Thursday's 6-3 loss at Baltimore.
Lyles is 4-5 in 17 starts overall to go along with a 4.91 ERA and did not receive a decision in his only start against the Red Sox, who posted an unearned run over five innings of a 2-1 win back on July 3, 2011.
The Astros were mentioned in the Biogenesis scandal on Monday and Double-A Corpus Christi pitcher Sergio Escalona was slapped with a 50-game suspension.
Boston won all four meetings with Houston last season and had won seven in a row in this series. The Red Sox 11-3 all-time against the 'Stros.