Oswalt dazzles as Astros blank Red Sox
Ace scatters just two hits over four scoreless innings of work
ASTROS (ss) 3, RED SOX (ss) 0
at Kissimmee, Fla.
Tuesday, March 16
Red Sox at the plate: It was a tough day for the top of the order, as Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia combined to go 0-for-6 with three strikeouts. Jason Varitek, hitting in the No. 3 spot, doubled and drew a walk in his second Grapefruit League outing.
Astros at the plate: J.R. Towles, competing with Jason Castro for the starting catcher spot, went 2-for-3 to move his Spring Training batting average to .550. Carlos Lee scored on a wild pitch in the fourth and Kazuo Matsui scored Houston's second run after Lee grounded into a double play in the sixth. Brian Esposito doubled in a run in the eighth.
Red Sox on the mound: Jon Lester was solid in his third and longest outing of the spring, giving up just one run on three hits, two walks and two strikeouts in four innings. The 26-year-old left-hander has given up just that one earned run in his past 6 2/3 innings, but his Grapefruit League ERA is still 5.87 after he gave up four runs in a frame on March 5 against the Twins. Scott Atchison followed Lester and tossed a scoreless frame, and Michael Bowden gave up a run in two innings of work.
Astros on the mound: Ace Roy Oswalt continued his excellent start to Spring Training, tossing four scoreless innings while giving up just two hits and a walk. Oswalt hasn't given up a run in six Grapefruit League innings. The 32-year-old right-hander had his scheduled start against the Nationals on Thursday get rained out and instead threw a three-inning simulated game. Matt Lindstrom, competing with Brandon Lyon for the closer's role, followed with a 1-2-3 fifth inning.
Worth noting: It was reunion day at Osceola County Stadium, where a sellout crowd of 6,200 was on hand. Brad Mills, the bench coach with the Red Sox for six years, managed against his old team, along with his best friend and longtime coworker, Red Sox manager Terry Francona. There was also a father-son meeting. Boston first-base coach Ron Johnson instead coached third on Tuesday, since his son, Houston infield prospect Chris Johnson, was starting at the hot corner. This was only the second time Ron Johnson was able to see his son play since he was drafted in the fourth round in 2006.
Grapefruit League records: Red Sox 8-4; Astros 6-6.
Up next: The Astros will host the Nationals for the final time on the spring on Wednesday at 12:05 p.m. CT. Wandy Rodriguez, who has yielded seven earned runs in five innings, will start for Houston. Opposing him will be Jason Marquis, who was Washington's big pitching acquisition of the offseason. The 31-year-old right-hander has given up five runs in two spring innings.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.