HOUSTON — Thrust into an everyday role because of injuries, Jake Marisnick is making the most of his opportunity with the Houston Astros.
Marisnick homered early off Chris Sale, then made two dazzling defensive plays in centre field to help the Astros beat the mistake-prone Boston Red Sox 4-3 on Friday night.
"There's not much not to like (about him) in a game like that," manager AJ Hinch said. "When you're a bench player ... you just want an opportunity. You just want a chance to show it. And he's doing great things on the field. It's pretty impressive."
It looks like Marisnick could get more chances for consistent playing time after George Springer injured his left hamstring sliding to try and catch a foul ball in the eighth inning in his first game back after missing four games with a stiff back. Hinch said they'd know more on Saturday, but it looks as if he'll be headed to the injured list.
"I'm not looking forward to the diagnosis, it doesn't look good," Hinch said. "He never pulls himself out of the game like that. He was limping from the very beginning."
In a matchup of the last two World Series winners, the Red Sox committed three errors, not looking nearly as sharp as they did in their last visit to Minute Maid Park when they captured the pennant with a 4-1 win in Game 5 of the AL Championship Series in October. The Astros took two of three last weekend at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox did end Ryan Pressly's MLB-record streak of 40 straight scoreless appearances when Jackie Bradley Jr. launched the first pitch from the Houston reliever for a home run in the eighth inning.
Wade Miley (5-2) yielded four hits and two runs in six innings, striking out a season-high eight to win his fourth straight decision.
All of Boston's errors came in the first four innings to help the Astros build a 4-0 lead.
"You've got to play clean against them," manager Alex Cora said. "They do more than hitting. They run the bases well, they're very athletic. It was a weird one. It was one of those that, if we played better defence, we'd have a chance."
Xander Bogaerts hit a solo homer in the sixth and Bradley made it 4-2.
Christian Vázquez homered off Roberto Osuna with two outs in the ninth, but the Houston closer struck out Bradley for his 13th save. It was his 25th consecutive converted save, a franchise record.
Sale (1-6) gave up three hits and four runs, but only two of them were earned, in six innings. He struck out five after fanning 10 or more in each of his last four starts — he struck out 10 against the Astros in his previous outing, getting a no-decision in a game Boston eventually won.
Sale was asked about having just one win this season.
"I don't really care whether I'm 6-1, 1-6 or 0-0 for the whole year, I just want to win the games that I pitch in," he said. "Obviously, you want to be on the other end of it and I'm not the biggest fan of coming in here to a quiet clubhouse. It's on me. It's on my shoulders and I've got to find a way to win."
Marisnick robbed Andrew Benintendi of a hit with a diving catch in the fifth. Marisnick got him again for the first out of the ninth when he sprinted to make a nifty, over-the-shoulder catch at the wall.
"Anytime you get a chance to get in there and get consistent reps and see pitching consistently it makes it a little bit easier to make adjustments," Marisnick said. "When you're not playing every day and you're trying to make adjustments and make things work it's hard. So it's been nice to play every day."
Boston's J.D. Martinez also returned to the lineup after missing the previous four games because of a back problem.
The defensive struggles for the Red Sox began in the second inning. Aledmys Diaz singled with one out and reached second on a wild pitch by Sale. He scored when Josh Reddick reached on a throwing error by first baseman Steve Pearce.
Marisnick hit a solo homer in the third. Houston added two runs in the fourth on a wild throw home by shortstop Bogaerts and a sacrifice fly by Springer.
Miley retired the first 10 batters, striking out six. He got Martinez to ground into an inning-ending double play in the fourth with two runners on, and escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fifth by striking out Bradley and retiring Michael Chavis on a lineout.
Red Sox: INF Brock Holt (shoulder) moved from Triple-A Pawtucket to Double-A Portland on Friday to continue his rehabilitation assignment. Manager Alex Cora said there is a possibility that he could join the team sometime this weekend.
Astros: 2B Jose Altuve (hamstring) continued to ramp up his activity on Friday and Hinch said he is nearing a rehabilitation assignment.
THEY SAID IT
Hinch on taking advantage of Boston's mistakes: "We win a lot of games, but very rarely do we win (where) we get outhit. We just played a cleaner game than they did."
Red Sox: LHP David Price (2-2, 3.29 ERA) will start for Boston when the series continues on Saturday. Price has a 2.17 ERA with 33 strikeouts in his last five starts.
Astros: RHP Brad Peacock (8-1, 2.24 ERA) is scheduled to start for Houston on Saturday after striking out nine in five scoreless innings against the White Sox for his third straight win in his last start.
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