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HOU@LAA: Feldman fans five over six innings

Scott Feldman hoped to finish last season on a positive note, but the Red Sox kept that from happening.

On Sept. 27, Feldman was rocked for eight runs and eight hits in 2 1/3 innings against the Red Sox while pitching for the Orioles.

Feldman hopes to hit the All-Star break feeling good about things, but he'll have to go through -- who else? -- the Red Sox to get it done. The defending World Series champions make their only visit to Minute Maid Park this season to open a three-game series Friday.

"It's just good, generally, to feel good about your previous start," he said. "Any time you have a longer break in there, it probably gives you more peace of mind. Last year, I ended the year and gave up 10 runs or something and I kind of had a tough timing getting that out of my head. It would be nice to really wrap up the first half playing well as a team, and hopefully we can win that series."

Since allowing nine runs and 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings on June 1 against Baltimore, Feldman has gone 1-2 with a 3.19 ERA in six starts. His last three starts have been quality starts.

After starting out their homestand with a 1-7 record, the Red Sox were able to salvage the last two games of their series against the White Sox, winning both in walk-off fashion. The Astros, on the other hand, are coming off a sweep of the Rangers after being swept in back-to-back series.

"We have had a long first half, and hopefully we can go down to Houston and have a good series and go into the break feeling good about ourselves," said Red Sox ace Jon Lester.

John Lackey will be pitching in the series opener for Boston, coming off one of the most perplexing outings of his career. While he allowed five runs on 10 hits to the Orioles in 5 1/3 innings, he struck out 11 batters.

"Honestly, it's about as good of stuff as I've had all year," Lackey said after the start. "I'm still trying to figure out what happened, honestly. I don't know how I gave up five runs, to be honest with you. You've got to give their guys a lot of credit. Tough lineup. I made a couple of mistakes, and they hit a couple of balls out of the park."

As for Feldman, he'll be facing a Red Sox team that's last in the American League in runs scored.

"I know they've got a couple of different guys in the lineup, but for the most part the main guys are still there," Feldman said. "I think it's a matter of time before they get hot. I know they're a few games under .500 or whatever, but looking up and down their lineup, they still have a lot of good hitters in their lineup."

Red Sox: Ross and Vasquez to share time
David Ross and Christian Vazquez will alternate starts behind the plate until the All-Star break, Red Sox manager John Farrell said on Thursday.

Vazquez made his Major League debut on Wednesday night after the Red Sox designated A.J. Pierzynski for assignment. Ross caught Lester on Thursday.

Farrell is still figuring out how he'll split up the catching load after the break.

"We fully expect or anticipate a playing split -- the times per week to be three for Ross and four for Vazquez as a little bit of a guide," said Farrell.

Astros: Team waiting on injuries
The Astros could get both center fielder Dexter Fowler and catcher Jason Castro back at some point in this weekend's series against the Red Sox. Or they could get neither.

Castro hasn't started since Sunday in Anaheim because he developed a pain in his left armpit, which has gotten substantially better in the last few days. He hasn't started at catcher since Saturday, when he was behind the plate for a 74-pitch inning in that game.

Fowler, meanwhile, could come off the 15-day disabled list as early as Saturday after missing two weeks with a right oblique strain.

"He's moving along good," manager Bo Porter said of Fowler. "It's another one of those situations where you allow the trainers to give you information and see where we're at when the 15 days is up."

Castro was hitting .462 (6-for-13) in three games prior to the injury after getting moved into the No. 2 spot in the batting order. Fowler was hitting .303 with a .392 on-base percentage in June prior to getting injured.

Worth noting
• The 100 home runs by the Astros this year are already more than they had in the entire 2011 season (95) and their fourth-highest total prior to the All-Star break in history.

• Of the Red Sox's last 24 games, 15 have been decided by one run, with Boston going 9-6 in those games.

• The Red Sox are 11-40 this season when an opponent scores first. Comments