Red Sox

Red Sox fail again to clinch AL East, fall to Astros, 3-2

Red Sox fail again to clinch AL East, fall to Astros, 3-2

BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox are running out of chances to wrap up the A.L. East title.

Boston once again failed to clinch the division crown, losing to the Houston Astros 3-2 Friday night as Alex Bregman homered and drove in three runs.

The Red Sox magic number remained at one to close out the New York Yankees, who beat Toronto 4-0. Boston leads the Yankees by two games — both teams have two games left and they're each assured playoff spots.

After going 8-1 in their final road trip of the season, the Red Sox have slumped at home, losing two in a row and falling to 1-4 on their homestand. But Mookie Betts said no one is panicking inside the clubhouse.

"It's just go win one game," the star outfielder said. "Nobody said it's going to be easy. If it was easy, it wouldn't be fun  . . . We just got to go win one game."

If Boston and New York wind up even, they will play a one-game tiebreaker Monday at Yankee Stadium for the division crown. The loser would go to the wild-card game.

Hanley Ramirez doubled with two outs in the Boston ninth. But with the Fenway Park crowd rooting for a rally, Rafael Devers grounded out to end it, with Ken Giles getting his 34th save.

The A.L. West champion Astros won their fifth straight game and posted their 100th victory of the season. They are one game behind AL Central champion Cleveland for the best record in the league and home-field advantage in the A.L. playoffs.

"It's a big number and it takes six months to get there. I'm proud of our guys, obviously. We've got a couple games left. We'd like 102, plus 11 in October," Houston manager A.J. Hinch said.

Charlie Morton (14-7) retired the first 13 Red Sox batters before Mitch Moreland doubled with one out in the fifth inning.

Morton allowed four hits in 5 1/3 innings. Four relievers combined to blank Boston on one hit.

A day after the Astros routed Boston 12-2, they took a 1-0 lead in the third on Bregman's RBI single off Doug Fister (5-9). Bregman, who had three hits, had a two-run homer in the fifth.

"The obvious thing is to go out and put together a solid game and win," Boston manager John Farrell said. "Our destiny is controlled by us, particularly as it relates to the final two days in the division. We've got to go out and win a game."

CLOSE CALLS

Boston pulled within 3-2 and had the bases loaded in the sixth, but Ramirez grounded out. Dustin Pedroia got aboard with a walk in the eighth, but pinch-runner Brock Holt was caught trying to advance on a curveball in the dirt by Chris Devenski. The play was challenged by Boston and held up after review.

Holt said he got exactly the scenario he hoped he would.

"I was looking for him to bounce one, and he bounced one. The catcher made a perfect play."

ASCENDING ASTROS

Houston has won 13 of 15. The Astros reached 100 wins for the second time in team history, having won 102 in 1998.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: INF/OF Eduardo Nunez (knee) took groundballs and ran sprints, but manager John Farrell said he is "still not game ready."

UP NEXT

Astros: RHP Lance McCullers Jr. (7-3, 4.01 ERA) has battled injuries in the second half, limiting him to just five starts since the break.

Red Sox: LHP Drew Pomeranz (16-6, 3.38) is 3 1/3 innings shy of setting a new career high for innings (170 2/3 in 2016)

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Fiers, Tigers blank Red Sox 5-0

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File Photo

Fiers, Tigers blank Red Sox 5-0

Jose Iglesias homered and drove in four runs, and Mike Fiers pitched impressively into the seventh inning to lead the Detroit Tigers over the Boston Red Sox 5-0 on Saturday night.

The major league-leading Red Sox lost for just the second time in 15 games, and their AL East lead over the New York Yankees slipped to 4 1/2 games.

Fiers (7-6) worked his first scoreless outing since his Tigers debut April 8, when he beat the Chicago White Sox 1-0 for Detroit's only other shutout this season. This time, he allowed seven hits and three walks in 6 1/3 innings, striking out six.

Brian Johnson (1-3) gave up two unearned runs and five hits in five innings for Boston. He struck out five.

Detroit took the lead in the second after Victor Martinez reached on an error by third baseman Rafael Devers, playing his first game since being reinstated from the disabled list. Devers fielded Martinez's grounder well behind third and his throw went past first, enabling Martinez to arrive safely.

That miscue proved costly when Iglesias came up with two outs and hit a two-run double, giving the Tigers a 2-0 lead.

Fiers threw only two balls through the first two innings, and he allowed three runs or fewer for the ninth time in his last 10 starts. He struck out Xander Bogaerts for the third out of the fifth with runners on first and third.

Boston threatened again in the sixth, but with two on JaCoby Jones was able to run down Jackie Bradley Jr.'s drive at the warning track in left field. In the bottom of the inning, Jeimer Candelario hit a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0, and Iglesias added a two-run homer.

Fiers exited with runners at the corners in the seventh. Alex Wilson got Bogaerts to ground into a double play, ending the inning.

Boston star Mookie Betts had two hits, raising his big league-leading average to .355. He also made a superb catch in right field in the third, reaching above the wall to catch Leonys Martin's drive.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: Devers (left shoulder inflammation) went 1 for 4. ... 2B Brock Holt, who left Friday's game with a bruised knee, was out of the lineup. Manager Alex Cora said he'd like to give Holt the weekend off. ... DH-OF J.D. Martinez had the day off after running into the wall while making a catch Friday. "These guys that make the All-Star Game, they really don't have an All-Star break," Cora said. "He's getting the day off because he ran into the wall, but I think it's a good day off for him anyway."

UP NEXT

Boston ace Chris Sale (10-4) starts the series finale Sunday against Blaine Hardy (3-2). Sale is 5-1 with a 0.94 ERA in his last seven starts.

J.D. Martinez out of lineup, sore after crashing into wall

J.D. Martinez out of lineup, sore after crashing into wall

A night after crashing into the right-field wall making a catch in the third inning of their 1-0 victory in Detroit, J.D. Martinez is out of the Red Sox lineup.

Here's a look at the catch: 

The news of Martinez getting the night off prompted this exchange with reporters, via The Boston Globe's Peter Abraham.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora said the "general soreness" won't make him reluctant from using Martinez, second in the majors in homers with 29 and tops in RBI with 80, in the outfield, where he's played 39 games in his first season in Boston, compared to 54 at DH.

Mookie Betts is back in right Saturday, with Jackie Bradley Jr. in center and Andrew Benintendi in right.

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