BOSTON — While David Ortiz’s streak of home runs in consecutive games ended at two, “Big Papi” is still going strong in just about every other category.
Ortiz had two hits and drove in three runs for the Red Sox in an 8-4 win over the Houston Astros on Saturday night.
“We all know the type of hitter he is,” Boston manager John Farrell said. “He’s doing things that look to him to be very easy, but it’s hard to imagine or even script out that he’d have this kind of performance considering the layoff.”
Oritz missed nearly all of the end of last season with a heel injury and was on the disabled list until Boston activated him last weekend.
Ortiz singled in the first inning, doubled with the bases loaded in the second and added a sacrifice fly for another RBI in the fourth. He has a 19-game hitting streak dating to last season, tying his career best, and is hitting .519 with nine RBI in seven games.
The rest of the lineup is hitting well, too, and Boston (17-7) moved within one victory of tying the club record for the month of April.
All but one Red Sox starter finished with at least one hit as Boston knocked around Houston’s pitching for the third straight game, finishing with 12 hits. The Red Sox have 40 hits through the first three games of the series, which concludes Sunday with Boston trying to complete their second sweep in the opening month.
“We’ve had a very good approach to the plate and our starting pitching has been real consistent,” Farrell said. “There’s still some room to improve in some areas, but the fact is we’ve got three areas of the game where we’re operating very good right now.”
Jacoby Ellsbury drove in two runs with a bases-loaded double off Brad Peacock (1-3) as Boston scored four in the second, quickly reversing a 2-0 deficit. Ortiz also doubled with the bases loaded later in the inning for Boston, which padded its lead with a three-run seventh.
Felix Doubront (3-0) recovered after a shaky first, pitching 6 2/3 innings. He allowed three runs and four hits while striking out eight. He also walked four, hit a batter and threw a wild pitch, but most of his struggles came in the first when the Astros capitalized on his erratic start and took a 2-0 lead.
“He settled down, figured it out and came back and pitched a good game,” said Ortiz, who declined to say much about his own start.
The Astros continued to struggle through their first month in the American League. Houston’s three starters in the series have lasted just 11 innings, allowing 17 runs and 24 hits.
The hitters aren’t faring well, either. One night after going 0 for 12 with runners in scoring position, the Astros were 1 for 12 and left 10 runners on base.
“We did not play well enough to win the game tonight. We didn’t pitch well enough. We didn’t hit well enough,” Houston manager Bo Porter said. “We had opportunities, and when we had opportunities we didn’t take advantage of them.”
Marwin Gonzalez was the only Houston player with more than one hit, finishing 2 for 4.
Dubront was pulled with two outs in the seventh after allowing Brandon Barnes’ infield single. It was just the fourth hit allowed by Dubront in the game but the second of the inning as the Astros cut Boston’s lead to 5-3.
Gonzalez led off the seventh with a single, went to second on a wild pitch and stole third. He scored when Jose Altuve grounded out to short.
Peacock pitched a scoreless first in his first start at Fenway Park, then was tagged in the second. He walked four and allowed three doubles in the inning, two of which came with the bases loaded.
“I definitely wasn’t hitting my spots at all and you can’t do that against this team,” Peacock said. “I know we’re all better pitchers than what we’re showing out there.”
NOTES: Right-hander John Lackey is expected to start for Boston in the series finale Sunday after a stint on the disabled list with a sore right biceps. Bud Norris (3-2) is scheduled to start for the Astros. … Houston sent eight batters to the plate in the first inning, then Boston topped that in the second by batting around. … The Astros’ 2-0 lead after the first was their first in three games of the series. … Porter went with an entirely right-handed lineup to face Dubront. … Peacock threw 90 pitches before being pulled when Ortiz came to bat with a runner on third and one out in the fourth. … Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino missed his third straight game because of stiffness in his lower back. … Mike Carp was the only Boston starter who failed to get a hit. He was 0 for 3.