Houston Astros’ Alex Bregman (2) is congratulated by George Springer, right, after hitting a two-run home run off Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez during the second inning at Fenway Park in Boston on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017.
BOSTON — Major league batting leader Jose Altuve had three of Houston’s 17 hits, Carlos Correa had four and the Astros chased Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez in the second inning to win 12-2 on Thursday night and keep Boston from clinching the first back-to-back AL East championships in franchise history.
Despite the loss, the Red Sox were guaranteed no worse than a tie for the division title when the Yankees lost 9-6 to Tampa Bay.
Boston needs one more win or Yankees loss to win the division; otherwise, the teams would meet in a one-game tie-breaker in New York on Monday to see who needs to play in the wild-card game and who advances to the AL Division Series — likely facing the Astros.
Altuve had two singles and his 39th double to raise his batting average to .350. Brad Peacock (13-2) allowed two runs and four hits in five innings, striking out two and walking one for the AL West champion Astros.
Marwin Gonzalez hit a three-run double in the first inning, and Alex Bregman hit a two-run homer off Rodriguez (6-7) in the second. Correa had an RBI double in the fourth, when the Astros scored four runs, and added a two-run homer in the seventh. Brian McCann also homered for Houston.
Mitch Moreland homered for Boston.
The Astros had already clinched the AL West title. They remain one game behind the Cleveland Indians in the chase for the best record in the league and home-field advantage through the AL Championship Series.
Rodriguez got in trouble early, loading the bases with one out in the first on a walk and two singles. After Evan Gattis struck out looking, Gonzalez hit a bases-clearing double into the right-center gap.
Rodriguez got the first two outs of the second before George Springer singled and Bregman hit an 0-2 pitch out to make it 5-0. After a visit by the pitching coach, the Red Sox left-hander walked Correa and that was it. In all Rodriguez allowed five runs, six hits and two walks in 1 2/3 innings, striking out two.
Astros: RF Josh Reddick (sore back) missed his fourth straight game. He had been expected to return on Thursday night, but manager A.J. Hinch said Reddick felt sore after the flight to Boston. “Any semblance of soreness or tentativeness on his part, and he’s just not going to play. It’s not worth it for one game until the soreness is gone,” Hinch said.
Red Sox: RF Mookie Betts returned to the lineup after missing two games with inflammation in his left wrist. He was hitless in three at-bats.
The teams play Game 2 of their four-game, season-ending series on Friday night. RHP Charlie Morton (13-7, 3.63 ERA), who has won two straight starts and three of four in September, will face Boston RHP Doug Fister (5-8, 4.87), who is winless in his last three starts as he faces his former team.