Red Sox avoid series sweep in wild victory over Astros

A controversial infield fly rule in the outfield. A fan streaking on to the field, only to be rocked by two security guards. A rare 2-3-4 double play that resulted in an ejection. Dropped fly balls. Twenty runs and five lead changes.

On Thursday night at Fenway Park, everything went off the rails.

Nearly four hours later, the Red Sox finally prevailed over the Astros, 12-8. The bottom of the Red Sox’ lineup — Christian Vazquez, Christian Arroyo and Bobby Dalbec — accounted for six hits and nine RBI as the Red Sox avoided a series sweep by the Astros in front of another electric crowd at Fenway Park, on one of the more unusual nights the ballpark has seen.

The Red Sox (38-25) came back from four separate deficits, finally taking command during a sixth inning that lasted nearly 50 minutes and turned the game truly bonkers.

Trailing 8-7 after Jose Altuve barely scraped a home run to the Monster seats, the Red Sox rallied. Kiké Hernandez got the party started with a leadoff double, his second of the night, kickstarting an inning that seemingly wouldn’t end. Hernandez had advanced to third when J.D. Martinez hit a high fly ball that right fielder Kyle Tucker dropped, scoring the game-tying run.

It was only the beginning.

Two batters later, with runners on first and second, Rafael Devers hit a fly ball to short left-center field that Carlos Correa settled underneath. But even though the Astros shortstop dropped it, sending Fenway into more delirium, the umpiring crew ruled Devers out on the infield fly rule. The call earned massive displeasure from the crowd at Fenway, and some confusion on the field, but yielded no argument from Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

Controversy or not, it ultimately didn’t end up mattering. Hunter Renfroe walked to load the bases, and the silliness continued on as a fan emerged from the right-field grandstand to run on the field, where he was ultimately tackled by a pair of security guards just below the pitcher’s mound.

It didn’t throw off the Red Sox. Vazquez, who was 3-for-3, was hit by a pitch before Arroyo drew a walk to put the Sox ahead, 10-8. Then, the scuffling Dalbec lofted a fly ball off the left-field wall for a stand-up double. It was ultimately all they needed.

When it was all said and done, the Red Sox sent 10 batters to the plate in the sixth and somehow recorded just two hits in their game-winning rally.

Eduardo Rodriguez lasted just 4 2/3 innings, leaving in the fifth after loading the bases on a walk. Cora called on Matt Andriese to preserve the Red Sox’ 4-3 lead at the time, but he couldn’t do it. He walked Yuli Gurriel on four pitches to tie the game before coughing up a bases-clearing three-run double to Tucker that put the Astros back ahead, 7-4.

The Red Sox responded right away. A week after his three-run homer was pivotal in helping the Sox avoid a sweep from the Astros last Thursday, Arroyo ripped another three-run blast, clearing the Monster seats to Lansdowne Street to tie the game at 7, a huge hit that allowed the Sox to ultimately climb back.

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