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HOU@BOS: Dominguez beats tag at home to score

BOSTON -- Astros manager Bo Porter remains confident his team will start coming through in the clutch and he's unwavering in saying he's not ready to make any changes to a starting rotation that's struggled to pitch deep into games.

That was after the Astros scuffled at the plate Friday night at Fenway Park, going 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position and watching starting pitcher Erik Bedard need 91 pitches to work into the fourth inning of a one-sided 7-3 loss to the Red Sox.

"It's always tough when the starter does not go deep into the game and you go to your bullpen early and you're behind the eight ball and behind in the game as well," Porter said. "At some point, we're going to need these guys to start to go deeper into the game."

Only three times in the past 11 games has an Astros starter lasted at least five innings, with Bedard not pitching past the fourth inning in any of his four starts. After throwing 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief on Opening Day, Bedard is 0-2 with a 10.32 ERA.

Houston's bullpen has worked more innings than any other relief staff in baseball.

"From our starters, it's just too many deep counts," Porter said. "When you get that many deep counts and the hitter is getting that many pitches to see, the more pitches the hitter sees, it's advantage hitter. We cannot continue to have these deep counts where we're three innings into the game and at 70-odd pitches."

The Red Sox bashed a season-high 17 hits, including four doubles, a triple and four solo home runs. Catcher David Ross hit a pair of tape-measure shots off Bedard that sailed over the Green Monster and clean out of Fenway Park. Will Middlebrooks also homered off Bedard, and David Ortiz tagged Paul Clemens for a homer that made it 6-2 in the fifth.

"I've never been 4-for-4, so I'm pretty excited about that," Ross said. "You know, it seems like this team has been somebody else every night. I'm excited to be a part of this team and a lot of these guys help each other out, a lot of these guys help me out. It's nice to be able to contribute."

With runners in scoring position, the Astros struck out nine times in their 12 at-bats and didn't get a hit.

"We continue to have chances, and I've said this -- you cannot continue to leave RBIs out there," Porter said. "We're going to have to start being more productive in those situations and I've said this to the players many times. When you look at guys that drive in runs, they drive in runs because they use the whole field and keep the ball in the big part of the field and that keeps you on the ball and it gives you the best chance to drive in runs in those situations."

Bedard endured a 33-pitch first inning, giving up an RBI double by Dustin Pedroia, and was sitting at 57 pitches through two innings and 79 through three. He entered the fourth on a short leash and was yanked after giving up back-to-back homers to Middlebrooks and Ross to start the inning.

"I felt good," Bedard said. "They did their job. They fouled a lot of pitches off and got my pitch count up and got some runs."

Red Sox starter Ryan Dempster (1-2) struck out 10 batters in six innings, allowing only four hits and two runs. Astros third baseman Matt Dominguez went 2-for-3 with two doubles and scored all three of Houston's runs. He came home on a Robbie Grossman grounder in the third inning, and Jose Altuve scored him on sac flies in the fifth and seventh innings.

"He's doing a great job," Porter said. "I think the guy's growing up right in front of our eyes. He's confident and believes he belongs here. I said this early on in the spring -- when the bat comes, you're looking at a Gold Glove third baseman, because this guy can defend with the best of them. He's now starting to take good at-bat after good at-bat."

Dominguez admits still trying to figure things out offensively.

"I think it's just going up there and having a plan against certain pitchers and most importantly getting a good pitch to hit, that's the biggest thing," he said. "I've been trying to be patient and get something good to hit."

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