Sox slide past Astros, 2-1, to complete sweep


Sox slide past Astros, 2-1, to complete sweep

By Sean McAdam Red Sox InsiderFollow @sean_mcadam
HOUSTON -- On a day in which the Red Sox stranded 12 baserunners and were just 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position, it was perhaps fitting that they would push across the winning run without so much as swinging the bat.

Kevin Youkilis worked a based-loaded walk in the top of the ninth, forcing home Drew Sutton with what proved to be the difference in a 2-1 victory over the Houston Astros.

The Astros had intentionally walked Adrian Gonzalez to pitch to Youkilis, who foiled the strategy by drawing a five-pitch walk from reliever Mark Melancon.

The win gave the Sox a sweep of their weekend series here, a four-game winning streak and left them with an interleague record of 10-8.

Josh Beckett, named earlier Sunday as an American League All-Star, picked up his seventh win, allowing just one on five hits over eight innings while fanning a season high 11 hitters.

Jonathan Papelbon locked down the ninth inning for his 17th save in 18 tries.

The Sox scored their first run in the fourth on a fielder's choicethrowing error by first baseman Brett Wallace.

Houston's only run came in the when pinch-hitter Angel Sanchez singled home Wallace (leadoff double) from second base.

STAR OF THE GAME: Josh Beckett
Beckett turned in another gem, limiting the Astros to a single run over eight innings, but until the Red Sox rallied in the top of the ninth, he stood to take a tough-luck no decision.

Named to the All-Star team earlier in the day, Beckett struck out a season-high 11 and allowed just five hits -- four of them singles.

If nothing else, Youkilis had an eventful day.

He singled and scored the first run in the fourth, getting spiked by Houston catcher Carlos Corporan in the process.

In the ninth, after the Astros walked Adrian Gonzalez, Youkilis worked had a bases-loaded walk to force in the winning run.

GOAT OF THE GAME: Mark Melancon
Melancon walked pinch-hitter Drew Sutton to start trouble for the Astros in the ninth, and after a single, fielder's choice and an intentional walk, walked Youkilis to lose the game for Houston.

In a 1-1 game in the bottom of the eighth, Beckett allowed a leadoff single to pinch-hitter Jeff Keppinger, and when Michael Bourn got down a sacrifice bunt, the Astros had the potential go-ahead run in scoring position.

But Beckett got Clint Barmes to ground out, then retired Hunter Pence on a flyout to center, setting the stage for the Sox' ninth-inning heroics.

Josh Beckett had his 9th straight start of six-plus innings during which he's allowed five or fewer hits, the longest streak in franchise history.

"Yes.'' Terry Francona's succinct answer after being asked if he was glad to be through with interleague play for the season.

Sean McAdam can be reached at Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Pedro Martinez talks about one of the greatest games he's ever pitched


Pedro Martinez talks about one of the greatest games he's ever pitched

CSN baseball analyst Lou Merloni sits down with Pedro Martinez and Red Sox hitting coach Chili Davis to discuss one of Pedro's greatest games. 

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On September 10, 1999 at the height of the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry, Pedro Martinez struck out 17 Yankees in a complete game victory, with the only hit he allowed being a home run to Chili Davis. The two men recall that memorable night in the Bronx, and discuss the state of pitching in 2017.

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

NEW YORK - There won't be any wild pitches on intentional walks this season.

The players' association has agreed to Major League Baseball's proposal to have intentional walks without pitches this year.

"It doesn't seem like that big of a deal. I know they're trying to cut out some of the fat. I'm OK with that," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.

While the union has resisted many of MLB's proposed innovations, such as raising the bottom of the strike zone, installing pitch clocks and limiting trips to the mound, players are willing to accept the intentional walk change.

"As part of a broader discussion with other moving pieces, the answer is yes," union head Tony Clark wrote Wednesday in an email to The Associated Press. "There are details, as part of that discussion, that are still being worked through, however."

The union's decision was first reported by ESPN .

"I'm OK with it. You signal. I don't think that's a big deal," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "For the most part, it's not changing the strategy, it's just kind of speeding things up. I'm good with it."

There were 932 intentional walks last year, including 600 in the National League, where batters are walked to bring the pitcher's slot to the plate.

"You don't want to get your pitcher out of a rhythm, and when you do the intentional walk, I think you can take a pitcher out of his rhythm," Girardi said. "I've often wondered why you don't bring in your shortstop and the pitcher stand at short. Let the shortstop walk him. They're used to playing catch more like that than a pitcher is."

Agreement with the union is required for playing rules changes unless MLB gives one year advance notice, in which case it can unilaterally make alterations. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope Tuesday that ongoing talks would lead to an agreement on other changes but also said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Some changes with video review can be made unilaterally, such as shortening the time to make a challenge.

"I know they were thinking about putting in a 30-second (limit) for managers to make a decision," Francona said. "I actually wish they would. I think it would hustle it up and if we can't tell in 30 seconds, maybe we shouldn't be doing it anyway."