HOUSTON -- Three games is too modest a winning streak to stir much excitement in a veteran club like the Boston Red Sox. What does spark enthusiasm, however, are nights like Friday, when the youngsters provide the punch.
Brock Holt, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Christian Vazquez all recorded multi-hit games as the Red Sox provided right-hander John Lackey ample run support to overcome his command woes and the Houston Astros 8-3 at Minute Maid Park.
Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz struck the biggest blow in a five-run sixth inning, a bases-clearing double off Astros left-hander Darin Downs that drove home right fielder Holt, catcher Vazquez and shortstop Stephen Drew. But it was Vazquez who chased Astros right-hander Scott Feldman (4-6) with a two-run double after Feldman intentionally walked Drew to set up a force at every base with one out and the Astros (39-55) trailing 3-1.
Boston (42-51) recorded seven extra-base hits. Ortiz and Vazquez finished with three RBIs apiece, with Vazquez recording two doubles while going 3-for-4 in his second start behind the plate. Holt doubled and tripled as he and center fielder Bradley each went 2-for-4 and combined for three runs.
"You look at the way his swing is built -- he uses the big part of the field," Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Vazquez, who made his major league debut on Wednesday night. "The development that he's realized through last year and this year has been a product of that. He's playing with a lot of confidence and surprising line-drive power. He puts himself in position to cover the ball away particularly."
Lackey (10-6) issued five walks over six innings and tossed 50 of his 117 pitches out of the strike zone. However, he skillfully worked around traffic and stranded seven baserunners during his outing, leaving four in scoring position. He did allow a solo home run to Astros designated Chris Carter in the sixth, but departed with a comfortable 8-2 lead.
Carter added another homer off Red Sox left-hander Craig Breslow in the eighth inning, giving him his second multi-homer game this week. Carter pulled even with rookie outfielder George Springer for the club lead with his 19th home run.
"Both of the home runs today went to the pull (left) field," Astros manager Bo Porter said of Carter. "That's something that he has worked extremely hard on with John (Mallee) the hitting coach. You have the type of power that he possesses, you want to make sure that you get extension, you get the ball in front, and he is doing a tremendous job of that right now."
In the third, the Red Sox got to Feldman, with Vazquez getting his first career hit -- a single to left-center field -- before Holt followed with an RBI triple and second baseman Dustin Pedroia added an RBI double for a 2-0 lead.
In the fourth, Drew and Vazquez tripled and doubled in succession after Bradley Jr. opened the inning with a single. Bradley was erased when Xander Bogaerts hit into his second double play, but Drew scored to bump the lead to 3-0 when Vazquez added his first extra-base hit.
"Once you get the first one, it's easier," Vazquez said of his multi-hit performance. "Then, they come in like bananas."
Lackey did not allow his first hit until the fourth, but because he walked a pair of batters in advance of his two-out confrontation with Astros left fielder Enrique Hernandez that hit proved costly, with Hernandez driving home Jon Singleton with a single.
Aside from the Carter homer, Lackey was sharp enough. And with the Red Sox chasing Feldman in the sixth, Lackey didn't need to be perfect.
"It was a tough game all around," said Feldman, who allowed seven runs on 11 hits and three walks over 5 1/3 innings. "I was throwing a lot of pitches. It felt like in that sixth inning, things kind of snow-balled, and I couldn't get the out that I needed."
NOTES: Astros C Jason Castro returned to the starting lineup and batted second after missing the entirety of a three-game series with the Texas Rangers because of soreness in his left armpit area. ... Red Sox RF Shane Victorino restarted a rehab assignment Thursday night at Class A Lowell, finishing 0-for-2 while playing five innings against Staten Island. Victorino was placed on the 15-day disabled list May 24 with a right hamstring strain. ... The Astros will recall LHP Brett Oberholtzer from Triple-A Oklahoma City for a spot start Saturday against the Red Sox. Astros RHP Collin McHugh will be scratched and given the All-Star break to recover from a torn right middle fingernail. ... Astros CF George Springer was scratched from the starting lineup with discomfort in his right knee. He is listed as day to day.