Loretta Lifts Astros Past Red Sox

Mark Loretta had a pinch-hit, RBI single in the eighth inning off Hideki Okajima on Sunday to lift the Houston Astros to a 3-2 win over the Boston Red Sox.

Loretta, who played for Boston in 2006, batted for Doug Brocail (4-3), who earned a victory in relief for the second straight night.

Jose Valverde shut out the Red Sox in the ninth to earn his 21st save as the Astros took two of three from the Red Sox in Boston's first series in Houston.

Josh Beckett, who was born and raised in nearby Spring, Texas, gave up two runs on eight hits, but took his third no-decision in six starts.

Manny Ramirez tied the game in the seventh with a solo homer off Oscar Villareal. Dustin Pedroia hit a solo homer off Houston starter Brian Moehler and went 9-for-14 in the series. Pedroia has 24 hits in his last 45 at-bats spanning 10 games.

Okajima gave up a run in relief for the second time in three nights. Boston's bullpen had allowed just one run in its previous 13 innings before the Astros scored five on Saturday night and the game-winner on Sunday.

The Red Sox slipped one-half game behind Tampa Bay in the AL East heading into a three-game series with the Rays, starting Monday.


Geoff Blum, making a rare start, gave Houston a 1-0 lead in the second with a solo homer to right, his fifth of the season. Beckett hadn't given up a home run in four starts.

Pedroia tied it in the third with a leadoff homer to left, his fourth home run in his last 15 games.

Houston took a 2-1 lead in the fifth on Lance Berkman's RBI single. Michael Bourn reached on a fielder's choice and Hunter Pence beat out an infield hit before Berkman singled to center, his 67th RBI of the season.

Moehler hit 100 pitches for the first time this season in the sixth.

Jason Varitek drew a one-out walk and went to third on Julio Lugo's single to right. Moehler struck out Beckett on pitch No. 111 before manager Cecil Cooper replaced him with left-hander Wesley Wright. Moehler tipped his cap to the cheering crowd as he walked to the dugout.

Lugo stole second and Wright walked Jacoby Ellsbury to load the bases. Pedroia was next, but Wright struck him out on three pitches, prompting a fist pump from catcher Humberto Quintero as the Astros came off the field.

Wright struck out J.D. Drew in the seventh, but Cooper brought in the right-handed Villareal to face Ramirez. The Boston slugger hammered a 1-2 pitch into the Astros bullpen, his 16th home run of the season.

Mike Lowell beat out an infield hit and Kevin Youkilis walked. Brocail relieved Villareal and got two outs to preserve the 2-2 tie.

David Aardsma (2-2) relieved Beckett in the eighth and Tejada singled with one out.

Tejada went to second on a wild pitch and Boston manager Terry Francona brought in Okajima. He got Blum to ground out, but Loretta singled up the middle, his fourth RBI of the series after a three-run homer in Saturday's game.

This program aired on June 30, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.