8/8/2013 2:19 A.M. ET
Struggling at plate, Napoli held out of lineup
By Chris Abshire / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- Mired in an 0-for-14 slump, first baseman Mike Napoli was held out of the Red Sox's lineup in favor of Mike Carp on Wednesday night.
"Today was a day to get him off his feet," manager John Farrell said. "It was pretty much scheduled before the extra work was accomplished today. He needed some focused work to try and reproduce that more direct bat path through the point of contact. He's been grinding of late, but [I] felt the extra work was needed and a day off his feet.
"Right now, he's grinding, and as a result, I think the swing has gotten a little bit longer at times. And that's where you see him having to commit earlier to above average velocity, and that does make him susceptible to a bigger strike zone, possibly."
Napoli did get some good news recently, as he received word from his latest MRI that his degenerative hip ailment, avascular necrosis, hasn't worsened.
Still, Farrell admitted that the veteran isn't exactly fresh at this point in the season.
"He's got some things going on -- not the hip, the hip's not part of it. Like anybody else, there's ailments that guys are dealing with, not to the point of it being the reason for some things, or a stretch of performance," Farrell said. "He's managing things just like everybody else."
Since the July 20 MRI, Napoli has struck out in 40 percent of his at-bats (20 in 50 at-bats) and is hitting just .200 during that span.
Oblique injury sends Thornton to disabled list
HOUSTON -- The Red Sox placed left-hander Matt Thornton on the 15-day disabled list with a right oblique strain on Wednesday, retroactive to Monday, and recalled righty Pedro Beato from Triple-A Pawtucket.
Thornton suffered the injury on Sunday against the D-backs at Fenway Park. After giving up a leadoff single, the 36-year-old felt a cramping sensation and exited the game.
"On the second pitch [of the outing], I felt a little cramp," Thornton said on Wednesday. "The next one hurt a little bit and the fourth one took my breath away. Had a good idea then I was hurt."
The Red Sox acquired Thornton from the White Sox on July 12, and the 10-year veteran has made 10 appearances for his new club, giving up two runs on 12 hits over 8 1/3 innings with two walks and six strikeouts. In 50 total appearances this year, he has a 3.47 ERA, holding left-handed hitters to a .221 average.
Thornton and manager John Farrell said the southpaw had improved each day, but the team didn't want to aggravate the injury.
"Really, when you get into an oblique injury, even though he feels improved from Sunday, this is something we don't want to rush with the potential for a setback," Farrell said. "The fact is, we also need an arm in here after last night's bullpen use. To project a return to game activity will be around two weeks even with the improvement he's shown."
Thornton tossed the ball around the outfield before Tuesday's 15-10 win against the Astros, but he backed off Wednesday with more time to rebuild his arm strength. The veteran said he's not trying to overextend himself with the Red Sox in need of his services come September and beyond.
"Talking to the guys that have had it -- I've never had anything like this in my career before -- and everyone said they tried to come back too quick and it doubles the time coming back again," Thornton said. "So I didn't want that. I need to be fresh and really healthy when I'm back out there."
Thornton said extensive cardio and stretching regimens with the training staff will be his primary rehab methods, saying consistent blood flow to the region should make the injury a "minor thing."
This is the fourth big league stint of the season for Beato, who made nine appearances and allowed three earned runs over 8 2/3 innings. The 26-year-old has a 2.09 ERA in 26 relief appearances for Pawtucket.
Check swing eventually leads to Victorino ejection
HOUSTON -- Shane Victorino has a knack for getting tossed when he's nowhere near an umpire.
He was at it again during Wednesday night's 7-5 victory over the Astros. Sitting in the dugout during the top of the seventh inning, Victorino was ejected by third-base umpire Brian Knight after the right fielder argued his strikeout call that ended the sixth inning.
Victorino leaped over the dugout railing to dispute the ejection, and manager John Farrell soon followed, halting the game for several minutes.
The outfielder's displeasure with Knight stemmed back to the call that seemed to cost Boston dearly 30 minutes earlier, when Knight rang Victorino up on a check swing that ended a bases-loaded threat.
"Obviously, Shane had a little difference of opinion on the call," said Farrell. "It was a big play in the game, leaving the bases full like that."
Victorino declined to comment on the matter following the game.
The Astros scored three runs in the bottom half of the sixth inning to take a 5-2.
Moments after Victorino's departure, the Red Sox cut into the three-run lead when Jonny Gomes drilled a two-run homer into the left-field seats.
It's not the first time an umpire has thrown Victorino out from afar. With the Phillies, he was tossed by the home-plate umpire for repeatedly raising his arms in frustration over balls and strikes calls, all while he was in center field against the Marlins on Aug. 9, 2009.
It's the 14-year veteran's fifth career ejection and first since Aug. 5, 2011, against the Giants when he was still with Philadelphia.
Victorino's exit marks the sixth ejection of the season for a Red Sox player or manager.
Red Sox no strangers to thrilling comeback victories
HOUSTON -- Although it didn't have the dramatics of 11 walk-off wins, the Red Sox's early comeback and subsequent outburst in Tuesday night's 15-10 win vs. the Astros was unique in its own way.
There was no epic ninth-inning rally like they pulled off against the Mariners, but Tuesday was a methodical effort by a team used to comebacks.
"It's mentioned how it stacks up, so it means we've done it before," said right fielder Jonny Gomes, who hit a pinch-hit, three-run homer to cap off a five-run sixth inning. "With that being said, it says a lot about the character of this team. It's pretty easy to say, 'Play hard 'till the last out,' but you're seeing this team actually do it."
Boston now has 26 comeback wins this season, coming from behind in five of its last six wins.
The Astros jumped ahead, 5-0, but a three-run third inning put the Sox right back in it. A pair of Houston runs in the third and fourth seemed to provide breathing room. Not with this Boston lineup.
The Red Sox plated five in each of the next two frames, the first time Boston has scored at least five runs in consecutive innings since Sept. 10, 2004, against Seattle.
"You got to get on the board first," Gomes said. "Once we did that, they went out and scored some runs and erased them. It was toe to toe a little bit, but we needed a body blow in the fifth to take the wind out of them. The second time we did it, that was the knockout blow."
The Red Sox joined the Indians as the only teams this season to win a game by five or more runs that they had also trailed by at least five runs. The Tribe did it on June 28 against the White Sox with a 19-10 victory.
The 15 runs was also Boston's second-highest total of the season and the most on the road since posting 18 in Baltimore on July 18, 2011.
Manager John Farrell said the comebacks have become more or less expected in the dugout, with no walk-off possibility required to lock his lineup in to the moment.
"Throughout the course of the game, there was never any extra sense of urgency, no panic," he said. "Guys truly believe if we stay with our overall approach, we have a chance to build an inning every inning.
"So whether it's all those runs in the ninth against Seattle or being down five here early last night, there's a relentlessness to the approach up and down the lineup. You catch one and put points on the board with one swing, things have a way of mounting."
Farrell: 'There's a need to win every night'
HOUSTON -- Although Bo Porter and John Farrell are in their first year managing their respective teams, the Astros and Red Sox are at completely opposite ends of the baseball spectrum.
Farrell took over a 69-93 Boston squad and has already matched that win total with the Red Sox parked at the top of the American League East.
Meanwhile, Porter's first season resembles the two years prior to his arrival, with the Astros careening toward another 100-loss season.
It makes for an interesting matchup so late in the season, as the Astros are calling up nearly every major talent from their farm system lately while Farrell and the Sox have winning now as the top priority.
"I don't know if it's pressure," Farrell said. "There's a need to win every night. You balance on-field results with making sure guys get ample rest, because we feel like the intensity we have to play with tonight is going to be the case through the remainder of the season."
Porter has repeatedly said that the Astros are getting a chance to evaluate players throughout their organization, which is admittedly different from the day-to-day grind of a pennant race.
"I'm focused on what this organization can accomplish, and what we're doing now, evaluating these young guys who are answering questions, is a part of the success we expect to see down the road," Porter said. "I can't speak to what John is feeling over there. I know how exciting these two months can be if playoffs are a possibility."
Porter coached Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes during the 2011 season in Washington, and Gomes said he has a "lot of respect" for the rookie manager. However, that didn't leave any room for sympathy.
"I have a lot of emotions for this team, but I don't have much emotion to feel bad for anyone [else]," Gomes said. "I had the worst record in baseball in 2007 [with Tampa Bay] and in 2008 we went to the World Series. [Oakland] won the AL West last year with a $41 million payroll. It's possible to win if you're in the big leagues. Bo knows it can turn quick."
• Reliever Drake Britton pinch-ran for David Ortiz in the ninth inning of Boston' 7-5 victory, and he was the tying run on second base when Stephen Drew launched a three-run homer.
• Ortiz hit .630 (17-for-27) with two doubles, two home runs and 10 RBIs in seven games against Houston this season.
Chris Abshire is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.