HOUSTON (AP) — When the Boston Red Sox were in Houston last August, many on the team were disappointed when they dealt veteran catcher Christian Vázquez to the Astros for prospects Wilyer Abreu and Enmanuel Valdez.
The Red Sox were feeling much better about the trade Thursday when Abreu led the way in a 17-1 rout of the Astros. Abreu got his first major league home run among four hits as the Red Sox tagged J.P. France for 10 runs.
Alex Verdugo hit a leadoff homer and drove in two runs, and Abreu, who made his debut Tuesday, added four RBIs.
“Obviously the mood last year when we got him, it was a lot different than now,” Boston manager Alex Cora said.
The Red Sox set season highs for runs and hits with 24, and it was the most runs and hits the World Series champs have allowed this year. Boston has at least one home run in 13 straight games, the team’s longest streak since homering in 19 in a row in 2019.
“They were just hot,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “The bats were hot and they can hit and then when the hits start coming, it’s hard to stop it.”
Abreu's big day came after he had two hits Tuesday and his first RBI Wednesday.
“He’s a good hitter,” Cora said. “He kept putting up good at-bats, even at the end. He was relentless.”
The Red Sox were up 13-1 before catcher Martín Maldonado gave up five hits, including a homer to Connor Wong, and four runs in the ninth. It was his second career pitching appearance and first since throwing a scoreless inning for the Brewers in 2014.
Thursday’s lopsided win comes after the Red Sox won 7-5 in 10 innings Wednesday night after dropping the first two games of the series.
The Astros were hoping to get a strong start from France (9-5) to give their taxed bullpen a rest. Instead, the rookie had the worst performance of his young career, giving up 11 hits and 10 runs — both career highs — without getting out of the third inning.
“It didn’t appear that him and (catcher) Yainer (Diaz) were on the same page for a while,” Baker said. “You could sort of tell they were out of sync and ... the guy’s been great for us. I know he feels badly.”
Boston starter Brayan Bello (10-7) yielded nine hits and a run in seven innings for his second straight win.
The Red Sox got going immediately with Verdugo sending France’s third pitch into the seats in right field for his third leadoff homer this season.
There was one on with no outs in the second when Abreu homered to right-center to extend the lead to 3-0.
“As soon as I hit that ball, I knew it was gone,” Abreu said through a translator. “I can't put into words how I felt in that moment ... but it was an amazing experience and an amazing feeling, and I'm happy that it happened today.”
Rafael Devers hit a two-RBI single with one out in the inning to make it 5-0.
Luis Urías added an RBI double with one out in the third and Verdugo knocked another run in with a single later in the inning to leave Boston up 7-0. France walked Devers after that to load the bases and end his day.
Brandon Bielak, who was recalled from Triple-A Sugar Land on Thursday, hit Justin Turner with a pitch before walking Adam Duvall to send two more runs home. Masataka Yoshida singled after that to make it 10-0, and the Red Sox added another run on a groundout by Pablo Reyes.
Mauricio Dubón doubled to start the fifth, and the Astros made it 11-1 when he scored on a single by Alex Bregman. Yordan Alvarez went 1 for 3 in his return after missing two games after slamming his hand in a door and injuring his left index finger.
Red Sox: Closer Kenley Jansen wasn’t available Thursday after leaving Wednesday night’s game with tightness in his right hamstring. Cora said he would be evaluated when they return to Boston on Friday, and they hope he can avoid going on the injured list.
Astros: OF Michael Brantley (right shoulder surgery) will return to Sugar Land to resume a rehabilitation assignment this weekend. Baker said Brantley, who hasn’t played since June 2022, wasn’t ready to return and needed more time with Sugar Land before rejoining the Astros.
Boston: RHP Kutter Crawford (6-6, 3.66 ERA) will start Friday’s opener of a three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Houston: LHP Framber Valdez (9-9, 3.55) starts for the Astros against Detroit RHP Matt Manning (5-4, 4.31) Friday night in the first of three games against the Tigers.
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