Red Sox pitcher Joe Kelly stands on the mound as Astros base-runner Jose Altuve rounds third base during Sunday’s game.
BOSTON — Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts could only hope that no one noticed.
Jose Altuve hit his first grand slam after Bogaerts made a mental gaffe on a play that would have ended an inning Sunday, carrying the Houston Astros to an 8-1 victory over Boston.
Leading 2-0, the Astros got a break when manager Bo Porter won a challenge and they scored four runs after Bogaerts’ mistake. The shortstop picked up Marwin Gonzalez’s grounder, ran to second for what looked like a force and fired to first. The problem was he threw the ball about a step before he tagged the bag. After Joe Kelly walked the bases full, Altuve homered into the Green Monster seats.
“I knew right away that once I let that ball go that I stepped after,” Bogaerts said. “It’s kind of something that I knew I messed up right there, but hopefully the umpires would not look at the replay and we’d get a double play.”
Red Sox manager John Farrell was ejected by first-base umpire Doug Eddings after Altuve’s slam.
“My initial explanation on the field was that it was a neighborhood play,” Farrell said. “My interpretation is that neighborhood play should not be determined by a feed throw or not, a neighborhood play is not a reviewable play.”
Houston third base coach Pat Listach noticed the early release. Porter asked crew chief Jim Joyce to check to see if the play could be reviewed.
“When I first went out there he made the comment of it being the neighborhood play and I basically said to him, `That’s not the neighborhood play, he’s not being protected from anything,”’ Porter said. “He said, `Well let me get with the crew chief.’ They all got together and decided they would just get on the headset to make sure.”
Joyce checked with New York, the play was reviewed and the inning continued.
Bogaerts knew it cost his team.
“I wish I could do it over,” he said.
Altuve, who leads the majors in hits, went 4 for 5, raising his hit total to 173 and majors’ best average to .339 as the Astros completed a split of the four-game series.
Daniel Nava had an RBI double for Boston.
Dexter Fowler and Jon Singleton added solo homers for Houston, which earned its 52nd win to surpass last year’s total.
Collin McHugh (6-9) gave up one run on seven hits in six innings for Houston.
Fowler’s homer in the third made it 7-0.
Kelly (0-1) was tagged for seven runs on seven hits, walking six over four innings in his Fenway Park debut with the Red Sox. He was acquired at the non-waiver trade deadline along with first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig for right-hander John Lackey. “I wasn’t nervous, it was just a terrible game,” he said.
Boston recalled RHP Steven Wright and designated OF Corey Brown before the game. Wright pitched four innings and allowed one run on four hits.
Nava went 6 for 11 with three doubles and three RBIs.
Astros 1B Jesus Guzman, on the DL since August 2 with back spasms and on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Oklahoma City, is eligible to come off.
Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia was out sick and it was his 31st birthday. He had three homers in seven previous games on his birthday.
The Astros are off Monday before opening a three-game series at Yankee Stadium Tuesday when LHP Brett Oberholtzer (4-8, 3.87 ERA) is scheduled to face New York’s lefty Chris Capuano (1-3, 4.13).
RHP Brandon Workman (1-6, 4.45 ERA) is slated to go for Boston Monday, facing C. J. Wilson (9-8, 4.71 ERA) when the Red Sox open a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels.
Actor Matthew McConaughey watched the game from the second row down the left-field line just past the Astros’ dugout. He appeared to go fairly unnoticed until he left in the top of the ninth and many fans took pictures and shook hands as he was walking out.
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