HOUSTON (AP) Struggling through a tough July, Houston designated hitter Chris Carter took the two games he missed with an ankle injury to regroup and refocus.
And in his return Tuesday night he broke out of his slump with two hits, including a two-run homer, to help the Astros roll to an 8-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox.
''The whole time I was just thinking about my at-bats and hitting and everything and wanting to be out there and just try to get everything right,'' he said. ''So when I got back out there I could help the team.''
The designated hitter was in an 0-for-20 slump before a single in the fifth inning that was his first hit since July 3. It was the first multi-hit game since June 27 for Carter, who is hitting .190.
Rookie Carlos Correa drove in two runs as the Astros used a big fifth inning to rally for the win, extending the Red Sox's losing streak to six games.
Rookie Vince Velasquez (1-1) allowed seven hits and three runs for his first career win in his seventh major league start. He was recalled from Double-A Corpus Christi on Tuesday.
The Astros trailed by two before a four-run fifth where they scored two runs on an error before Correa's ground-rule RBI double made it 4-3. An RBI single by Evan Gattis wrapped up the scoring in the fifth before Carter's shot to the bullpen in right-center field extended the lead to 7-3 in the sixth.
''Obviously he's had a little bit of a roller-coaster season but I've said this before, any given night this guy can change the scoreboard,'' manager A.J. Hinch said of Carter. ''For him to be able to do that, to tack on those runs is very key.''
Boston starter Brian Johnson (0-1) allowed three hits and four runs with four walks in 4 1-3 innings in his major league debut. He was 8-6 with a 2.73 ERA in 16 starts at Triple-A Pawtucket.
Johnson had retired eight straight before Carter and L.J. Hoes hit consecutive singles with no outs in the fifth. Jake Marisnick grounded into a forceout and then stole second base. The throw from catcher Ryan Hanigan bounced off his arm and into the outfield for an error to allow Carter and Marisnick to score and tie it at 3-3.
''I thought Brian kept things together,'' Boston manager John Farrell said. ''A quirky play at second base where we're trying to cut down a baserunner (and it) goes off (him) for two runs. That's an uncommon play.''
Jose Altuve drew a walk to chase Johnson. He was replaced by Justin Masterson, who plunked Marwin Gonzalez in the leg. Correa's ground-rule double, which bounced into the stands down the right field line, scored Altuve to put Houston on top.
An infield single by Gattis allowed Gonzalez to score and push the lead to 5-3.
Correa, who has a career-long six-game hitting streak, put Houston up 1-0 with a sacrifice fly in the first.
Velasquez struck out the side in the second before running into trouble in the third. Alejandro De Aza singled and Hanigan doubled with no outs. Mookie Betts doubled to right field to score them both and give Boston a 2-1 lead.
A one-out single RBI by Xander Bogaerts pushed the lead to 3-1.
Gonzalez was hit by a pitch by Masterson again in the sixth inning and was replaced at first base by Jon Singleton to start the seventh inning.
Astros: INF Jed Lowrie, who hasn't played since April 27 because of a torn ligament in his thumb, will begin a rehabilitation assignment at Double-A Corpus Christi on Wednesday. Since he's been out for so long he will need several games in the minors before returning to the team and will see work at both third base and shortstop in the stint.
Boston's Joe Kelly opposes Collin McHugh when the series continues Wednesday. Kelly has had a tough time in his career against the Astros, going 0-1 with an 11.81 ERA in three appearances against Houston. McHugh is tied for third in the American League with 10 wins and he has a 4.35 ERA.