Red Sox face Astros, Zack Greinke looking to avoid sweep


Eduardo Rodriguez is tasked with trying to cool off the Houston Astros’ bats as the host Boston Red Sox hope to avoid a three-game series sweep on Thursday night.

Rodriguez will be opposed by Astros ace Zack Greinke.

Houston’s bats came alive in a pair of blowout wins to open the series, a 7-1 drubbing on Tuesday and an 8-3 victory on Wednesday. The Astros have won five of six games against the Red Sox this season after taking three of four in Houston last week.

“Competition brings out the best in you — or the worst in you. But it happens to bring out the best in this club,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “We’ve got one more big game against them. You want to end up beating them more than they beat you.”

Rodriguez (5-4, 5.59 ERA) will seek to turn things around for the Red Sox and build on a solid start last time out after a rough stretch.

The 28-year-old left-hander held the Yankees to three runs on five hits with a walk and seven strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings in Boston’s 7-3 win at New York on Saturday.

Rodriguez had allowed four or more runs in four prior starts, all losses, including giving up a season-high six runs on seven hits over 4 2/3 innings in an 11-2 loss at Houston on May 31.

In that game, the Astros’ Jose Altuve hit a two-run home run in the third inning and Kyle Tucker added a two-run single in the fifth.

Rodriguez is 1-3 with a 7.84 ERA in five career starts against the Astros.

Alex Bregman, who hit a two-run shot Wednesday, is 3-for-9 with two homers and three RBIs in his career against Rodriguez. Altuve (4-for-10), Martin Maldonado (2-for-7) and Michael Brantley (1-for-6) have each hit one home run against him.

Greinke (6-2, 3.38 ERA) is coming off one of his best starts of the season. On Friday against the Toronto Blue Jays in Buffalo, the veteran right-hander tossed a complete game, allowing just one run on six hits with one walk and three strikeouts in a 13-1 Astros rout.

Greinke is 4-1 with a 2.37 ERA over his past five starts. He did not face the Red Sox during the team’s four-game series last week and has struggled in his career against Boston, going 2-5 with a 4.60 ERA in eight appearances (seven starts). He is 0-2 with a 9.64 ERA in three games (two starts) at Fenway Park.

Hunter Renfroe is 6-for-21 with three homers and six RBIs against Greinke. Enrique Hernandez is 3-for-12 with two home runs and five RBIs and J.D. Martinez is 4-for-16 with one homer and three RBIs against him.

Alex Verdugo, who is 1-for-6 lifetime against Greinke, is expected back in the lineup after missing the Red Sox’s past two games due to back tightness.

Boston is 5-5 over its last 10 games and has dropped two straight following a five-game winning streak.

“We’re in the middle of a grind,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “We’re a little bit short against a great team. Our starters, they give it up early in the game. That’s what (the Astros) do. I’m not concerned, to be honest with you.”

–Field Level Media

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