Tucker, Astros down former bench coach Cora, Red Sox 11-2

Sports from the AP

Houston Astros starting pitcher Jose Urquidy reacts after striking out Boston Red Sox’s Xander Bogaerts during the sixth inning of a baseball game Monday, May 31, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

HOUSTON (AP) — Back in Houston as Boston’s manager, Alex Cora and the Red Sox were handed their most lopsided loss of the season by his former team.

Kyle Tucker had a season-best three hits and tied a career high with four RBIs as the Astros beat their ex-bench coach and his Red Sox 11-2 on Monday.

This was the first time Cora, now managing the Red Sox again, had faced the Astros since being suspended last year for his role in Houston’s illegal sign-stealing scheme in 2017.

Cora helped Houston win the 2017 World Series as bench coach, then managed Boston to the 2018 championship. He was let go by the Red Sox following Major League Baseball’s investigation into the Astros, then suspended by MLB through the 2020 postseason before getting rehired in Boston last November.

“I got suspended,” Cora said, reflecting on the scandal before the game. “That’s something that will always be on my resume and I think at the end, we all made a mistake. We all messed up, and we all are paying the price.”

Cora remains close with Houston players Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve and said before the game that Astros hitting coach Alex Cintrón was his “best friend.” Cora and Cintrón talked and joked around before the game.

“Cora, that’s my boy,” Correa said. “That’s my brother for life. His time here, I will always appreciate it because I learned so much from him when he was here.”

Cora was asked about Houston’s approach at the plate on Monday.

“They did a good job of just making contact,” he said. “It’s not about hitting hard all the time. You make contact and good things happen and today they did that.”

Jose Urquidy (4-2) did his part in ending Boston’s three-game winning streak. He yielded three hits and one run, striking out nine over six innings in his return from the injured list.

Urquidy, who had been out since May 12 with shoulder inflammation, won his career-best fourth straight decision.

“He had good tempo,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “Everything was in sync. He told us he was going to be ready and he … threw as good of a game as he had all year.”

The recent struggles for Eduardo Rodriguez (5-4) continued when he allowed a season-high six runs and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings to extend his losing streak to a career-long four games. He struck out four and walked two after pitching just four innings his last time out.

Altuve hit a two-run homer and Alex Bregman drove in two runs for Houston.

“It’s always good to score a lot of runs and win the game,” Altuve said. “This is why we’re here. I think we’re playing good but we need to play even better. I like where we’re at.”

The Astros got things going by hitting three consecutive singles with no outs in the second before taking a 1-0 lead on a sacrifice fly by Taylor Jones. Myles Straw then grounded into a double play that scored another run.

Martín Maldonado singled to start Houston’s third before Altuve homered into the seats in left field to extend the lead to 4-0. That homer was the 140th of Altuve’s career, moving him past Bob Watson and into sole possession of eighth place on the franchise list.

Altuve singled with one out in the fifth and Rodriguez walked Bregman with two outs. Colten Brewer relieved and walked Correa to load the bases, and Tucker grounded a two-run single to make it 6-0.

Bregman’s two-run single highlighted a five-run sixth.

Alex Verdugo hit an RBI double in the Boston sixth. Hunter Renfroe homered in the eighth.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: DH Yordan Alvarez missed his fifth straight game with a sore right wrist … 1B Yuli Gurriel was out for a third consecutive game with inflammation in his left middle finger. … LHP Blake Taylor (sprained right ankle) was activated from the 10-day injured list. … RHP Andre Scrubb and RHP Ralph Garza Jr. were optioned to Triple-A Sugar Land to make room on the roster for Taylor and Urquidy.

THEY SAID IT

Urquidy on if he was surprised by how well he pitched in his return: “I work for that, so it’s not a surprise for me.”

UP NEXT

Boston RHP Garrett Richards (4-3, 3.83 ERA) opposes Luis Garcia (3-3, 2.93) when the series continues Tuesday night.

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