Altuve struck out swinging to lead off the game, then doubled in the third, singled in the fifth and tripled in the sixth. His homer made him the first Astros player to hit for the cycle since Brandon Barnes against Seattle on July 19, 2013. Hitting second for the Astros that day was a 23-year-old Altuve.
Now 33, a former MVP and a three-time batting champ, Altuve went 4-for-6 on Monday, his third four-hit game of the season and 37th of his career. It was just the third time in nine games that he’s had multiple hits.
Astros manager Dusty Baker said it’s as well as he’s seen Altuve swing the bat since he returned in May from a 43-game absence because of a broken thumb.
Yordan Alvarez added a three-run homer as part of a six-run sixth inning and José Abreu hit a solo home run for the Astros, who won their third straight. Houston is locked in a tight race with Seattle and Texas for the AL West title.
Kendall Graveman (4-6) pitched a scoreless fifth inning for Houston, which followed up its 25-hit performance in Sunday’s win at Detroit with 18 on Monday.
“It’s good to score runs,” Baker said. “When you’re hitting a lot, you’re running a lot. That’s how Seattle got started on their streak, when their leadoff man got hot.”
José Urquidy worked the last four innings for the Astros, allowing one run to pick up his first save of the season.
Chris Sale lasted 4 2/3 innings and yielded three runs and seven hits, including a home run.
Houston starter Cristian Javier was chased in the fifth shortly after giving up a towering two-run home run to Boston’s Adam Duvall that cleared the Green Monster seats and put the Red Sox in front 4-3.
Boston’s momentum was short-lived.
Red Sox reliever Kyle Barraclough (1-1) walked back-to-back batters to open the sixth. With one out, Altuve hit a deep flyball that ricocheted off the Monster in center, scoring two and allowing Altuve to slide in for a triple.
Barraclough hit Alex Bregman with the next pitch. Alvarez then emptied the bases, driving his 22nd home run of the season into the Red Sox bullpen in right field to stretch the lead to 8-4. After two walks and another hit batter, Yanier Diaz hit an RBI single.
Barraclough threw 94 pitches in 4 1/3 innings, allowing 10 runs, 11 hits, five walks and three homers. He hit three batters.
“I just didn’t have it, one of those nights,” Barraclough said. “I lost control. That’s about as bad as I think I’ve thrown the ball in my life.”
The Red Sox were 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position left 13 men on base.
Red Sox: INF/OF Pablo Reyes was placed on the 10-day injured list with elbow inflammation. … OF Wilyer Abreu was placed on the paternity list.
Astros: Manager Dusty Baker said outfielder Michael Brantley could make his season debut over the next two days. Brantley had right shoulder surgery a year ago. He recently had a productive seven-game rehab stint with Triple-A Sugar Land and flew to Boston to join the team on Monday.
SET TO START
Highly touted Red Sox prospect Ceddanne Rafaela made his major league debut, inserted into center field in the eighth inning after being called up from Triple-A Worcester. He is expected to get his first big league start on Tuesday.
Rafaela said manager Alex Cora told him about the start shortly after he arrived in Boston on Monday. The 22-year-old infielder/outfielder was named the Red Sox’s minor league Defensive Player of the Year in 2021 and 2022 and has hit .312 with 20 home runs, 79 RBIs and 36 stolen bases in 108 games with Double-A Portland (60 games) and Worcester (48 games).
Astros: RHP J.P. France (9-5, 3.51 ERA) will make his second career start against Boston. The first did not go well: He lasted 2 1/3 innings and allowed 10 runs and 11 hits in Houston’s 17-1 loss last week.
Red Sox: RHP Brayan Bello (10-7, 3.56) picked up his team-leading 10th win last week at Houston, allowing one run in seven innings.