Garrett Richards pitches well, but Red Sox silenced again in loss to Astros

Garrett Richards did his job. But once again, the Red Sox offense couldn’t keep up.

As good as their offense has been this year, it’s been sometimes puzzling to see the kinds of ruts the Red Sox have gone through at the plate. A day after producing barely anything in one of their worst losses of the season, the Red Sox were silenced again in a 5-1 loss to the Astros on Tuesday at Minute Maid Park, as they dropped the first two games of a pivotal seven-game road trip this week.

Richards pitched mostly well, but for a second consecutive day the Red Sox were outmatched by the Astros starter. They were shut down by Luis Garcia, who pitched seven innings of one-run ball and often made Red Sox hitters look silly at the plate. They swung and missed 19 times against Garcia, striking out six times.

The Red Sox looked like they were about to finally break through in the fifth when Hunter Renfroe doubled and Danny Santana singled to start the inning, but they only scored once to show for it. And for a second consecutive night, the Red Sox’ 3-4-5 hitters of J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers — who have mostly carried them this year — weren’t up to the task as they combined to go 0-for-12. The trio is hitless in their first two games in Houston.

The Red Sox’ offensive production has mostly hinged on their overall success this season. Tuesday continued that theme for them as they fell to 4-19 when they score fewer than four runs. On the flip side, they’re 28-3 when they score four runs or more.

— Richards, though he made some mistakes, more than gave the Red Sox a chance as he went six innings and allowed two runs, including a leadoff home run to Jose Altuve. But the right-hander won’t be happy about the four walks he gave up, a troubling trend that he said after his last start he needed to clean up if he wanted to take the next step in his progression. He’s allowed four walks in each of his last three starts, and 15 over his last four.

— The Red Sox still trailed just 2-1 in the seventh but that’s when it got away from them in a messy inning. Devers and Marwin Gonzalez both committed errors that did no favors for Hirokazu Sawamura, who didn’t help himself with a wild pitch. Garrett Whitlock, in his first appearance in a week, replaced him and inherited the bases loaded with one out, and walked home a run on four pitches before giving up another run on a slow roller from Yordan Alvarez.

— Gonzalez has gone through a hard time at the plate as he’s seen his average dip below the Mendoza line. But manager Alex Cora saw some hope in a swing he made on a fly ball in Monday’s loss. Though that has only translated into one hit over the last two weeks, he saw some more progress Tuesday, as he battled through a six-pitch at-bat and drove in the Red Sox’ first run on a ground out. It was his first RBI since May 7.

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