By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
HOUSTON -- Just as road interleague games are coming to an end for another season, the Red Sox seem to be getting the hang of things.
The Sox scored early (three runs in the first) and added on late (six runs over the last three innings) to cruise to an easy 10-4 victory over the Houston Astros.
The win was Boston's third in a row against NL teams after a stretch that saw them go 1-7 in interleague play.
Boston got nine hits from its 2-3-4 hitters (Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis), pounding out 13 hits in all.
Even Darnell McDonald, who came into the game with just six hits all season, contributed, belting a three-run homer in the eighth to put the game effectively out of reach.
The first five Red Sox hitters reached in the first against J.A. Happ, resulting in the early lead.
Back-to-back doubles by Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia producd another run and Yamaico Navarro, pinch-hitting for starter Andrew Miller, launched his first major league homer in the seventh.
Miller turned in his third straight good start, going six innings while allowing two runs on seven hits.
Four other relievers -- Alfredo Aceves, Daniel Bard, Bobby Jenks and Dan Wheeler -- finished out the game after Miller left.
STAR OF THE GAME: Andrew Miller
Three starts in, the Andrew Miller Experiment is a qualified success.
Saturday night, he limited the Astros to two runs over six innings and is now an out shy of posting three quality starts in three outings since being promoted from Pawtucket.
He rebounded nicely after being hit around some in the first and allowed just four hits over his final five innings of work.
HONORABLE MENTION: Darnell McDonald
McDonald got a start Saturday, and for a change, made the most of it.
The outfielder had just six hits all season before he cranked a tape-measure three-run shot to left for his second homer of the season. In so doing, he doubled his RBI total for the season.
It was McDonald's first career three-run homer.
GOAT OF THE GAME: Carlos Lee
Lee has been the target of a frustrated Astros fan base, with boos regularly cascading down on him when he fails to come through at the plate.
Saturday night, he managed a single in the sixth, but otherwise stranded seven baserunners in his other three at-bats.
TURNING POINT: Bard's escape act
The Sox led 5-2 in the bottom of the seventh with Daniel Bard inheriting a bases-loaded jam from Bobby Jenks.
Bard walked Hunter Pence -- though he appeared to be squeezed by home plate umpire Cory Blaser on more than one pitch -- to force in a run, then retired Lee on a fielder's choice, leaving the bases loaded.
BY THE NUMBERS: 6232002
Yamaico Navarro became the first Red Sox player to hit his first major league homer as a pinch-hitter since Juan Diaz did it on June 23, 2002.
QUOTE OF NOTE:
"It's a long season and a humbling game. Hopefully, this will get me going.'' -- Darnell McDonald on his three-run home run.