Correa, McCullers Darn Sox In Opener

McCullers: Posts 7th win
(c) Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle
It was long ball and small ball that led the Astros in 4-2 victory Thursday night over the league-leading Red Sox at Minute Maid to wrap up a 16-12 month and open the beginning of a four-game series between playoff foes.

Carlos Correa gave Houston the early lead with a two-run shot into the Crawfords, just inside the left-field foul pole. It came in the first inning off Drew Pomeranz after Alex Bregman walked.

Boston tied it in the third off Lance McCullers. Jackie Bradley Jr. doubled then Andrew Benintendi coaxed a base on balls. Xander Bogaerts drilled a double over Tony Kemp's head in left that scored them both although the play at the plate on Benintendi's slide was close enough to merit a replay from New York. Crew chief Hunter Wendelstedt upheld the call.

In the top of the fourth, Rafael Devers tapped down the first base line which caused J.D. Davis to charge and flip to McCullers who collided with Devers at the bag. Both players were shaken up but stayed in the game.

In the bottom half of the inning, Davis beat out an infield hit. One out later, Tim Federowicz cracked a ground rule double to right. Kemp nubbed a pitch toward Mitch Moreland at first with Davis just barely beating the tag of Sandy Leon at home. Again, instant replay was brought in. Again, the call was upheld as Wendelstedt signaled safe.

Jake Marisnick followed with a bunt that forced Kemp out at second while Federowicz trotted home easily with the Astros' fourth run.

McCullers lasted six innings, allowing four hits and two walks. Will Harris and Hector Rondon shut the door before Ken Giles worked out of a two-on jam in the ninth with a fly out to center to end it.

30,658 dynamically-priced fans witnessed the contest. Next up, the Friday night battle features a likely pitcher's duel between Boston's Chris Sale (5-2) and Houston's Gerrit Cole (5-1) in a 7:10 pm Central tussle.

Off the field, two injured regulars, Josh Reddick and Brian McCann had slow prognoses. Reddick is continuing to heal from a knee infection and is expected to have some rehab starts in the minors once he is cleared for play. McCann is resting after his sore knee was drained of fluid and given a cortisone shot. Both are ruled out for the rest of this series.

- Bob Hulsey