Houston, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Clay Buchholz struck out a career-best 12 while firing a three-hit shutout, Brock Holt went 5-for-6 with a solo home run and the Boston Red Sox ended a disappointing first half with an 11-0 drubbing of the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.
Buchholz (4-5), who entered the game with a 6.11 ERA, didn't permit a baserunner after the fourth inning in by far his best performance of the season. The previously struggling righty set down the final 17 Astros he faced in notching his fifth career shutout.
"I thought he had such good feel and command of his curveball and changeup, and then it set up his fastball," Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Buchholz.
Holt's career day headlined a Boston offense that pounded out 16 hits in all in the rout. Christian Vasquez went 2-for-4 with two RBI, while David Ortiz and Mike Carp also knocked in a pair of runs to help the defending world champions head into the All-Star break with wins in four of their last five outings.
Houston, meanwhile, committed three errors and had starter Brad Peacock (3-6) record just one out in addition to being dominated by Buchholz.
"Did a great job with his command and keeping us guessing all game," Houston catcher Jason Castro said of Buchholz.
Peacock's troubles began immediately, as Holt deposited the right-hander's sixth pitch of the afternoon into the second deck in right field to quickly put Boston ahead. The blast was followed by a Dustin Pedroia single and a walk to Ortiz that preceded Peacock hitting Daniel Nava with a fastball that would have been ball four anyway.
Anthony Bass was then summoned in from the bullpen and got Jackie Bradley Jr. to hit into an inning-ending double play, but walked Xander Bogaerts and surrendered a single to Stephen Drew that put runners at the corners with none out in the second. Though Vasquez grounded into another twin-killing, Bogaerts crossed the plate for a 2-0 advantage.
The Red Sox tacked on two more runs in the third, as Mike Napoli singled and Nava reached on one of Houston's errors prior to Bradley lacing an RBI single up the middle. Bogaerts' fly ball to center enabled Nava to score and stake Boston to a 4-0 lead.
While Houston pitchers were struggling, Buchholz was in command all throughout. He was reached for a pair of singles in the fourth but got out of the inning unscathed, then was perfect -- and practically unhittable -- the rest of the way.
Eight of Buchholz's strikeouts came between the fifth and eighth innings, and the Astros got just four balls out of the infield during his game-ending stretch.
Another Astros error led to another run in the seventh, with Boegarts reaching on Marwin Gonzalez's errant throw and eventually coming home on a Vasquez sac fly. It was an 8-0 game later in the inning when Jose Veras walked Ortiz with the bases loaded.
The Red Sox reached double-digit runs in the ninth, as Vasquez doubled in front of Holt's fifth hit of the afternoon and Carp's two-run triple. Ortiz capped the scoring with an RBI groundout.