July 28: Houston 8, Boston 3
Lance Berkman went bananas and crushed three home runs, two against Roger Clemens and one against Koji Uehara. Berkman’s dingers drove in six runs. Clemens allowed five earned runs in a second straight start, and his ERA swelled to just over 3.00.
Mike Scott tipped on the tightrope for five shutout innings while stranding 11 Bostonians in just those first five frames. Boston finally got some baserunners all the way around the diamond in the sixth and knocked out a wild Scott, but Larry Anderson and Billy Wagner slammed the door from there.
R H BB HOU 004 020 101 - 8 10 4 BOS 000 003 000 - 3 10 8 HR: L. Berkman-3 (20) starters IP R ER HR BB SO M. Scott 5.2 3 3 0 8 3 R. Clemens 6.0 6 5 2 3 7 HOU 46-54, BOS 59-41
July 29: Houston 5, Boston 4
No way Houston could follow up an upset of Clemens with an upset of Pedro Martinez, right? Wrong. Like Scott the day before, J.R. Richard was wild but limited the damage.
Jeff Bagwell and Jim Wynn both knocked solo dongs against Pedro, but the Red Sox carried a 4-2 lead into the top of the seventh. When the first three Astros to bat in the seventh loaded the bases, Martinez got the hook in favor of Jonathan Papelbon. All three inherited runners came home on a Jeff Bagwell single and Moises Alou sac fly, and Houston edged into a one-run lead. Houston relievers Octavio Dotel, Hal Woodeschick, and Larry Anderson combined for three shutout innings to close out a shocker of a series win for the Astros.
Tris Speaker slapped four hits and swiped two bags for Boston but the team didn’t get much else out of their lineup except for a lot of walks and stranded runners.
It was the third straight sub-par start by Pedro, and his ERA also grew to just over 3.00.
R H BB HOU 100 010 300 - 5 7 6 BOS 210 100 000 - 4 9 10 HR: J. Bagwell (21), J. Wynn (6) starters IP R ER HR BB SO J.R. Richard 6.0 4 3 0 8 2 P. Martinez 6.0 5 5 2 4 9 HOU 47-54, BOS 59-42
July 30: Houston 5, Boston 4
The Astros jumped Cy Young in the first inning for a quick 4-0 lead. Craig Biggio, Berkman, Cesar Cedeno, and Art Howe all had hits in the inning. Young settled into a groove for the next seven innings, during which he never really got in trouble.
That allowed the Boston offense some time to mount a comeback, and Moises Alou gave them a helping hand with a bad error in the fourth inning. Carlton Fisk drove in two with a bomb, one of three hits for Pudge. The Sox added a third run later in the frame to get within a run, and then tied it up in the bottom of the eighth on hits by Manny Ramirez and Fisk.
The way Young was cruising, it seemed more than likely that Boston would pull out the win. But the last three Houston batters, Howe, Dickie Thon, and John Edwards, all singled in the top of the ninth to push across the go-ahead run, and Billy Wagner threw a perfect bottom of the ninth to cap off perhaps the most surprising sweep of the season.
Houston took four of six from Boston on the year. The Red Sox have had an inexplicably hard time against the Expansion Division, going just 11-10 so far when the rest of the Original teams are 97-50 in inter-division play. The Sox have now dropped eight straight after never dropping more than three in a row before this skid. Their once mammoth lead in the Original Division is down to just two games.
R H BB HOU 400 000 001 - 5 8 4 BOS 000 300 010 - 4 10 1 HR: C. Fisk (13) starters IP R ER HR BB SO M. Cuellar 7.0 3 1 1 1 3 C. Young 9.0 5 5 0 4 2 HOU 48-54, BOS 59-43