BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Red Sox stumbled on their way to an AL East title — and got a pretty scary look at what's waiting for them if they get there.
Major league batting leader Jose Altuve had three of Houston's 17 hits, Carlos Correa had four and the Astros chased Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez in the second inning on Thursday night to win 12-2 and keep Boston from clinching the division title.
"We ran into a buzz saw tonight," Red Sox manager John Farrell said.
If the standings don't change, the Red Sox and AL West champion Astros would meet in the ALDS. The Red Sox were guaranteed no worse than a tie for the division title when the Yankees lost 9-6 to Tampa Bay, lowering Boston's magic number to one.
"I'm pretty sure we'll see them again," Houston third baseman Alex Bregman said. "Now we've seen them once."
Boston needs one more win or Yankees loss to clinch the first back-to-back division titles in franchise history; otherwise, the teams would meet in a one-game tie-breaker in New York on Monday to see who needs to play in the wild-card game and who advances to the AL Division Series.
"The sooner the better," Farrell said. "But still we're not taking anything for granted."
Altuve had two singles and his 39th double to raise his batting average to .350. Brad Peacock (13-2) allowed two runs and four hits in five innings, striking out two and walking one as he tried to convince manager A.J. Hinch that he deserves a spot in the postseason rotation.
"I'm sure they'll tell me something in the next couple of days," said Peacock, who is fighting to join the staff that will include Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel and potentially Collin McHugh, Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers. "They've got six good starters to choose from."
Marwin Gonzalez hit a three-run double in the first inning, and Alex Bregman hit a two-run homer off Rodriguez (6-7) in the second. Correa had an RBI double in the fourth, when the Astros scored four runs, and added a two-run homer in the seventh. Brian McCann also homered for Houston.
Mitch Moreland homered for Boston.
The Astros had already clinched the AL West title. They remain one game behind the Cleveland Indians in the chase for the best record in the league and home-field advantage through the AL Championship Series.