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astros 6, red sox 1

Red Sox can’t complete the sweep as Astros muffle them in series finale

Newly acquired Astro Trey Mancini watches his second-inning home run sail out of the park.Bob Levey/Getty

HOUSTON — The Red Sox registered back-to-back wins against the Houston Astros after Tuesday’s victory, marking the Sox’ first series win since June 24-26 against the Guardians.

The Sox had a chance at a sweep Wednesday afternoon but fell flat, suffering a 6-1 loss in the series finale at Minute Maid Park.

In Rich Hill’s first start since coming off the injured list, the lefthander yielded four runs in just three innings of work, including a three-run homer by Trey Mancini in the second inning.

“I didn’t throw the ball well,” said Hill, who wouldn’t use rust as an excuse. “I think it was one of those at the end of the day and that’s what’s frustrating. You go out there to pitch and compete. We can come up with a number of things that could have gone right or could have gone wrong or whatever. But at the end of the day, it’s about results.”

Rich Hill allowed six runs in just three innings of work Wednesday against the Astros.Bob Levey/Getty

The Sox didn’t get too many results from their offense, either.

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José Urquidy carried a no-hitter through five innings until Reese McGuire’s leadoff single to left-center in the sixth snapped the bid. Urquidy yielded just two hits, both in the sixth inning. He fanned 10 in seven innings of work, while the Sox lost rookie Brayan Bello, who took over for Hill in the fourth, to a left groin strain.

The Sox’ lone run came on a Xander Bogaerts home run in the ninth. The Sox scored a combined four runs this series. The lack of offensive results, Cora said, didn’t have much to do with the Sox not putting together quality at-bats, but more so, Houston’s deep rotation of starters.

“They have good pitching,” Cora said. “I think they do that a lot with a lot of good lineups. Just unique fastballs to certain spots. They’re really good at what they do. We’ve seen it since 2018. They elevate their fastball and use their offspeed pitches to expand. So, hopefully we see them again. That’s the goal here.”

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The Sox (53-53) have some work to do. They are still at the bottom of the American League East and upon the game’s completion were back to three games out of a wild-card spot.

Still, the team left Minute Maid Park with two wins in three of their contests against the Astros, snatching the season series from an Astros team that’s a favorite to return to the American League Championship Series. Some of the Sox brass took note of that, especially considering all the unknowns surrounding the trade deadline and the loss of a key piece in Christian Vázquez.

“I’m super impressed by Monday and Tuesday,” said chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom. “And especially Monday night when there was still a lot of uncertainty in the air. Maybe people thought that Christian, and Jake [Diekman] was the start of a mass exodus and when the game started, you couldn’t tell. There was a lot of focus and we grinded out a great win, and then came back and did it again the next day.”

The Sox now travel to Kansas City for a meeting with the lowly Royals. The four-game set marks a chance for the Sox to rack up some wins in the standings, particularly with the Braves, Orioles, and Yankees coming to Fenway next week.

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Bloom wouldn’t say if he thinks his team got better or not, adding that that will play out in the standings. Nevertheless, the Sox didn’t go into a full sell mode, something many critics and fans expected. They upgraded at certain positions, namely first base, as well as the addition of Tommy Pham to the outfield mix, but downgraded at the catching spot and failed to land an additional bullpen arm with the hope that someone can contribute internally.

Bloom played it safe, knowing safe, at least, would give his team a chance at punching their ticket to the postseason.

“It’s always a nerve-wracking time,” Hill said about the hours and days leading up to the trade deadline. “That’s the honest answer. You know no one is safe in the room. Everybody’s always up for the possibility of ending up somewhere else. But it’s over and we’re here and we have a really good opportunity in front of us to make something happen.”


Julian McWilliams can be reached at julian.mcwilliams@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @byJulianMack.