Astros-Red Sox Preview
By KEVIN CHROUST
(AP) -- Just when the Boston Red Sox were getting comfortable on the road, they're headed back to Fenway Park for an 11-game homestand.
It won't start in terribly demanding fashion Thursday night as they try to extend their dominance over the Houston Astros, who have never won in Boston.
The previous two series the clubs have played at Fenway resulted in seven Red Sox victories. Boston (54-65) leads the all-time series 15-4 after winning two of three in Houston from July 11-13.
The Red Sox also enjoyed some success on the tail end of a 5-3 trip, which ended Wednesday in Cincinnati with a 5-4 victory, their third straight.
"We're playing better baseball," Mike Napoli said after hitting a two-run home run. "I thought there were a couple more games we could've had."
At Fenway, the Red Sox have lost five of six and could be without Yoenis Cespedes, who exited the finale in Cincinnati with a right hand contusion. Cespedes had homered in his previous two games. He extended his hitting streak to eight games and has eight RBIs in his last five. The team called the move "precautionary" after the game.
Houston (50-71), meanwhile, has its hot-hitting slugger healthy. Chris Carter, Cespedes' former teammate in Oakland, went 2 for 4 with an RBI in Thursday's 3-1 loss to Minnesota. Carter went 5 for 11 with three home runs and seven RBIs in the three-game series with the Twins. In 32 games since July 4, he's batting .333 with 15 home runs and 37 RBIs, both MLB bests.
Houston has lost five straight road games and 17 or 23 away from Minute Maid Park, which is good news for Boston's Allen Webster (2-1, 4.91 ERA) as he prepares to take on Scott Feldman (6-8, 4.14).
Webster's third start since entering the rotation at the end of July was definitely his best, mostly because his control issues became a bit more manageable on his way to a second win. The right-hander allowed two runs and four hits while walking two and hitting two batters in 6 2-3 innings of Friday's 4-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels.
Webster had walked 11 over eight innings in his first two starts after being recalled.
"My fastball command was the biggest difference between starts," Webster told MLB's official website. "I just started going after batters. After every pitch, I just told myself to keep going after batters and trust my stuff and let my defense work."
Feldman has righted his season some in his last three starts, going 2-0 with a 2.01 ERA. The middle outing was a complete game, and he followed it up Saturday with a second straight win. The right-hander allowed three runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings of an 8-3 victory over Texas.
He was cruising through five innings before allowing all the damage in the sixth and seventh.
"For the most part of the game, I felt pretty good and felt pretty similar to my last three games and hopefully I can continue with that," Feldman said.
The 31-year-old has been much worse in his starts against Boston through the years, going 1-3 with an 8.89 ERA and .361 opponents' batting average. The latest came July 11 in an 8-3 loss as Feldman surrendered seven runs and 11 hits in 5 1-3 innings.
Napoli, a former catcher for Feldman in Texas, is 12 for 29 with two home runs in their matchups. Dustin Pedroia is 8 for 20 against Feldman, while Daniel Nava is 4 for 8 with a homer. David Ortiz has gone 3 for 15, but two of those hits have left the yard.
Updated August 13, 2014