Boston manager Alex Cora and right fielder Alex Verdugo were both ejected for arguing balls and strikes as the Red Sox lost a second straight game at Houston. Verdugo was ejected in the top of the fourth by plate umpire Pat Hoberg, who also tossed Cora after the manager objected to the call of ball four to Alex Bregman in bottom of the seventh.
It was the second ejection in three games for Cora, who stood the plate and kicked dirt before yelling in Hoberg’s face after he was tossed.
Verlander (9-6) allowed five hits and struck out a season-high nine in his fourth start since returning to the Astros in a trade with the Mets.
“Between the last start and this one, I felt like I really found something mechanically that answers a lot of questions for me,” Verlander said. “I think the results were really good.”
Houston had been swept at home by Seattle before winning the first two against Boston.
“You have to answer the bell and start playing better baseball,” Verlander said. “We know the talent is here and it's that time and you've got to go. You can't just wait around.”
There was one out in the first when Tucker connected off Tanner Houck (3-7) for his team-leading 25th home run this season to make it 2-0.
Houck allowed four hits and three runs in five innings in his first start since June 16, when he sustained a facial fracture after being hit by a line drive.
"It's a good one to build off of," Houck said. "First inning a little bit rocky, but I felt like I got back in a groove from second inning on.”
Martín Maldonado drove in a run in the fourth for Houston. Jon Singleton doubled twice and had two RBIs in a four-run seventh that made it 7-0.
The Red Sox loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth and had runners on first and second with one out in the seventh but came away empty both times on a night they went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position.
Adam Duvall, who had a three-run shot Monday night, hit a solo homer in the eighth inning to cut the lead to 7-1. The Red Sox have at least one home run in 11 straight games, which is their longest streak since a 19-game stretch in 2019.
Justin Turner drove in two runs for Boston with a single in the ninth.
Masataka Yoshida singled to start the fourth. Duvall was batting after that when Verdugo was ejected for yelling at Hoberg from the dugout.
Wilyer Abreu made his major league debut when he replaced Verdugo in right field in the bottom of the inning.
Mauricio Dubón singled leading off the fourth and Jeremy Peña walked with one out. Maldonado then hit a sacrifice bunt down the first-base line.
Catcher Connor Wong grabbed it and threw to first in time to beat Maldonado there. But the throw from Triston Casas to Devers, who was racing to cover home, wasn’t nearly in time to catch Dubón before he crossed the plate to make it 3-0.
Astros manager Dusty Baker said he can't remember the last time he's seen someone score from second on a bunt.
“But that was heads up baserunning on it because if he is not running hard then (third base coach) Gary (Pettis) can’t send him,” Baker said. “That was a big run for us because it was only 2-0 at that time.”
Duvall doubled with two outs in the sixth before Verlander plunked Casas. The Red Sox loaded the bases when Trevor Story reached on an error by second baseman Jose Altuve.
Verlander retired Luis Arias on a fly ball on the next pitch to escape the jam.
Houston played without Yordan Alvarez, who was scratched after slamming his hand in a door at home and injuring his left index finger. Baker said the injury wasn’t serious, but that the finger was sore.
Verlander was unhappy with Cora for coming onto the field and telling him to hurry up in the second inning when his PitchCom device was malfunctioning.
The veteran pitcher brushed him off with an expletive that was caught by the field microphones.
Verlander laughed it off after that game, saying Cora might have done it just to try and fluster him.
“In part it was just me being like, I’m done with this,” Verlander said. “You do what you want, talk to the umpire. I’m going to worry about pitching.”
Red Sox: OF Jarren Duran was placed on the 10-day injured list with a bruised left toe. Abreu was called up from Triple-A Worcester to take his spot on the roster. ... LHP Chris Murphy was optioned to Worcester to make room for Houck.
Astros: Baker said 1B Jose Abreu was doing much better and could come off the injured list before this homestand ends Thursday. Abreu has been out since Aug. 10 with lumbar spine inflammation.
Boston LHP Chris Sale (5-3, 4.50 ERA) opposes RHP José Urquidy (2-3, 5.21) when the series continues Wednesday night.
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