WASHINGTON — With J.D. Martinez on second after his tiebreaking double and the crowd thinned by a 98-minute rain delay, there were still enough fans in Fenway Park on Monday for a healthy chant of “Re-sign Xander!”
“Yeah, I heard it," said Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts, a three-time All-Star and two time World Series champion who is eligible to be a free agent after the season. “I just told myself, I said, ‘Listen here, brother, don’t strike out. Put it in play, see what happens. Just don’t strike out.’”
Bogaerts did not strike out. He hit a two-run homer that was enough for the Red Sox to relax — even after Houston's leadoff hitter reached in the ninth — and hold on for a 6-3 victory over the Astros.
“A game that got a lot of rain — you don’t even know how many people are going to stick around and see if the game's going to go ahead,” Bogaerts said. “Yeah, I heard it. I mean if I struck out, it wouldn’t help my cause.”
Trevor Story homered to tie it in the seventh inning and the Red Sox scored three in the eighth to cool down a Houston team that earlier this month won 11 in a row. Martinez and Kiké Hernandez had two hits apiece for Boston in the teams’ first matchup since the Astros won last year’s AL Championship Series.
Chas McCormick hit a home run and a double for Houston, which saw starter Jake Odorizzi leave on a stretcher in the fifth inning with a leg injury. Odorizzi was on crutches and wearing a boot afterwards, and Astros manager Dusty Baker said it may have looked worse than it was.
Matt Strahm (2-1), the fifth Red Sox pitcher, got five outs, striking out three and allowing one hit for the win. Hansel Robles pitched the ninth for his second save and Boston won for the third time in four games.
Hector Neris (1-2) gave up three runs on three hits and a walk while striking out one in the eighth. Houston has lost two of three since winning 11 in a row to go from .500 to the top of the AL West.
The Red Sox twice took one-run leads only to see the Astros tie it. Houston went ahead 3-2 on Jose Altuve's single through a drawn-in infield in the seventh, but Story tied it on his first home at Fenway Park since signing with the Red Sox this spring.
“That was probably one of our biggest swings of the season,” Bogaerts said. “Just getting us back in the game with one swing was better than trying to get a couple of guys on and seeing what happens.”
In the eighth, Hernandez and Martinez doubled to break the tie and then Bogaerts cleared the Green Monster to make it 6-3.
With Red Sox fans still smarting over the trade of soon-to-be free agent — and former AL MVP — Mookie Betts in two years ago, manager Alex Cora said he had talked to Bogaerts about his contract earlier Monday.
“He's not the first guy in that situation,” Cora said. “From my end, he's the shortstop, and he plays every day and he's a good player."
Odorizzi collapsed after throwing the last pitch in the fifth inning. He appeared to twist his left leg awkwardly on the delivery to Hernandez.
He turned to cover first base, but his leg buckled on his first step and he sprawled out on the grass, face down, in obvious pain. After the out was recorded, the Astros staff rushed out to attend to him and then signaled for a stretcher.
Odorizzi was emotionless while he was wheeled off. The team said later that he had “left lower leg discomfort.”
Odorizzi, who entered the game with a 15 2/3 inning shutout streak, was 3-2 with a 3.13 ERA this season.
Phil Maton took over when the rain delay ended.
Red Sox left fielder Alex Verdugo came up limping after sliding into the side wall trying to get to Jason Castro’s fly ball. It went over his glove for a double. Verdugo remained in the game.
Odorizzi held Boston hitless through three before Hernandez led off the fourth with a single. Martinez singled with one out, Bogaerts walked to load the bases, then Verdugo blooped one into center to score a run; Martinez held up to see if the ball dropped and was forced at third.
That was the first run Odorizzi had allowed since the second inning of a six-inning start on April 26 — a span of 19 1/3 innings.
Former Polish President Lech Walesa was at the game and made an appearance on the TV broadcast. He is in the United States helping to raise money for refugees who fled to Poland during the war in Ukraine.
The rain came down so quickly and heavily in the sixth inning that the grounds crew had trouble pulling the heavy tarp over the infield. Smaller tarps were brought out to cover the spots around home plate and down the third-base line that were left exposed.
The game resumed after a delay of 98 minutes with the score tied 2-2.
In Game 2 of the series, Houston RHP Jose Urquidy (2-1) will face Boston RHP Nathan Eovaldi (1-1).