HOUSTON — Alex Cora summed up Chris Sale’s night at Minute Maid Park in five words.
“It was a weird one,” Cora said.
Sale (1-6, 4.19 ERA) pitched well — he gave up three hits and four runs, only two earned, with two walks, five strikeouts and one home run — over six innings. But he was outdueled by Astros starter Wade Miley and, in a season in which wins have evaded him, this latest loss, a 4-3 result Friday, came in frustrating fashion when the Red Sox defense could not hold up behind him.
“Yeah I mean that kind of stuff is going to happen, you just try to limit the damage,” Sale said. “I’d put my defense up against anybody, it is what it is. I’ve had bad nights. We gave a couple extra outs but at the end of the day it’s on me to pick them up, and they’ve picked me up when I’ve stutter-stepped or tripped a little bit.”
Three errors, though, is out of the ordinary. Two of them were costly Friday.
The first came in the second inning. Houston scored the first run of the game when Aledmys Diaz made a good slide and beat Sandy Leon to home plate. First baseman Steve Pearce, who was charged with the throwing error on Josh Reddick’s grounder, threw behind Sale and Leon came off the bag to cover.
The catcher hustled back to the plate but couldn’t make the tag. Diaz was initally called out, but the call was overturned on replay to give the Astros a 1-0 lead.
“That was a great slide,” acnowledged Cora.
The second costly error came in the fourth and helped the Astros score two runs. Xander Bogaerts decided to throw home on a fielder’s choice by Jake Marisnick but missed the throw.
“I don’t think I had any second thoughts about going to first or going to second,” Bogaerts said. “Before that ball came I already had it in my mind that if it was a ball similar to that I was going home. Just didn’t throw it where the catcher was. Once it came out of my hand I thought it was good but it kind of two-seamed away from Sandy.”
“If he threw to the plate he felt like he had a chance at the plate, it just didn’t happen,” the manager said.
But that error allowed a runner to score and another, Reddick, to move to third. George Springer then hit a sacrifice fly, driving in Reddick.
The error in the fourth was Bogaerts’s second error of the game. His first came in the third inning on Yuli Gurriel’s grounder.
The Astros’ other run was a solo homer by Marisnick in the third.
Marisnick was equally pesky on defense. He robbed Andrew Benintendi of two hits, once with a diving catch in the fifth and another time by getting a good jump on a deep fly ball to lead off the ninth.
Miley didn’t need the help. He struck out six of nine on his first trip through the Red Sox batting order and pitched six innings of one-run ball, allowing four hits and two walks with eight strikeouts.
All three Red Sox runs were solo homers. Bogaerts hit his in the sixth for the lone run of the night off Miley. Jackie Bradley Jr., who has found some power at the plate lately, hit another in the eighth off Ryan Pressly. It was the first run Pressly had allowed in 21 innings.
The third was Christian Vazquez’s solo shot in the ninth.
That brought the tying run to the plate in Bradley. He struck out to end the game but, with the Red Sox in striking distance at the end, it made the defensive miscues seem that much worse.
“You’ve got to play clean against them,” Cora said. “They do more than hit it, they run the bases well, they’re very athletic. Like I said, it was a weird one. Just one of those that if we play better defense we have a chance.”