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Boston Red Sox Invade Minute Maid Park

(Sports Network) - The Boston Red Sox did not fare very well against the best team in baseball. Hopefully their fortunes change this evening against the worst team in the league, as they kick off a three-game interleague set against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.

The Red Sox could not muster anything offensively through the first two games of their series with thePhiladelphia Phillies, and appeared to be heading in the same direction on Thursday before Cole Hamels left the game with a hand injury.

Boston, though, got to Philadelphia's bullpen, as Drew Sutton and Jacoby Ellsbury delivered RBI singles in a two-run fifth inning and Dustin Pedroia and Jason Varitek hit back-to-back home runs in the eighth en route to a 5-2 triumph.

Jon Lester (10-4) was terrific in getting the win, giving up just two hits and two walks while striking out five.

"You want a quality start and hope to not give up a lot of runs, but you can't worry about winning or losing streaks you just need to try to execute your pitches," said Lester.

Hoping for a similar effort tonight, the Red Sox will turn to veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, who has lost two of his last three starts. Wakefield was defeated in Pittsburgh on Saturday, as the Pirates reached him for five runs and seven hits in six innings, dropping him to 4-3 on the year to go along with a 4.54.

Wakefield has faced the Astros only one other time in his 19 year career and did not get a decision, as he allowed two runs and five hits in 3 2/3 innings back in 1993.

Houston also staved off a sweep on Thursday, as Jason Michaels went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer and three RBI, helping the Astros post a 7-0 win over the Texas Rangers.

Wandy Rodriguez (6-4) worked seven scoreless innings, allowing four hits -- all singles -- while fanning four and walking three. David Carpenter, Fernando Abad and Mark Melancon worked the final two innings in perfect fashion to seal the four-hitter.

"It was nice to see Wandy work through and get out of some jams," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "I know in the third inning, he got two quick outs on seven pitches and he wound up throwing close to 30 pitches that inning when he loaded the bases and was able to get locked back in."

Carlos Lee added a home run and Clint Barmes collected three hits for the Astros, who snapped a five-game losing streak and an eight-game slide at home.

Hoping to keep that momentum rolling tonight, the Astros turn to righty Bud Norris, who is 4-6 with a 3.36 ERA. Norris lost his second straight decision on Saturday against Tampa Bay, as he allowed three runs and six hits in five innings.

Norris has never faced the Red Sox.

Houston took two of three from the Red Sox the last time these teams met back in 2008.

Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.