Astros' 16-run loss to Red Sox tied for worst in team history

HOUSTON -- Alex Verdugo hit a leadoff homer with four hits and rookie Wilyer Abreu got his first major league home run among four hits as the Boston Red Sox tagged J.P. France for 10 runs in a 17-1 rout of the Houston Astros on Thursday.

The 16-run margin of defeat is tied for the largest in Astros history. It was the seventh time Houston had been routed that bad, according to ESPN Stats & Information, with the last time happening vs. the Colorado Rockies on Sept. 25, 2011.

The Red Sox set season highs with 17 runs and 24 hits, 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, which is the team's longest streak since homering in 19 in a row in 2019.

The 24 hits in a game were the most for Boston since Aug. 15, 2015, and the 16-run margin of victory was the team's highest since a 19-3 win against the New York Yankees on July 25, 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."

Verdugo drove in two runs and Abreu, who made his debut Tuesday, added four RBI in the victory.

"He's a good hitter," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "He kept putting up good at-bats, even at the end. He was relentless."

Eight different hitters had multihit games for Boston and nine hitters recorded an RBI, which tied for second among MLB teams this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Tampa Bay had 10 players with an RBI vs. Seattle on June 30.

The Red Sox were up 13-1 before Astros catcher Martín Maldonado took the mound and 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.

Boston went 10-for-22 with runners in scoring position, while the Astros were 1-for-12 while leaving 11 men on base.

Thursday's lopsided win salvaged a split of the four-game series between the clubs.

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. Abreu is a former Astros prospect who was traded to the Red Sox last season as part of the deal for catcher Christian Vázquez.

"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 put 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 left hand in a door and injuring the 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 Jansen would be evaluated when they return to Boston on Friday, and the team hopes 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 in 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 ERA) starts for the Astros against Detroit RHP Matt Manning (5-4, 4.31) on Friday night in the first of three games against the Tigers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.