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HOU@BOS: Ross goes back-to-back with Middlebrooks

BOSTON -- In making their first significant transaction last winter, the Red Sox got backup catcher David Ross, mostly due to his reputation for being one of the best game-callers around. But the man has some pop in that bat -- parking-lot power, in fact.

Ross hit two towering shots that cleared the Green Monster on Friday night, landing in the parking lot on Lansdowne Street, and had his first career four-hit game.

The two homers by Ross, not to mention solo shots by Will Middlebrooks and David Ortiz, helped fuel the Red Sox to a 7-3 victory over the Astros on Friday night at Fenway Park.

"First time ever," said Ross. "I've never been 4-for-4 so I'm pretty excited about that. You know, it seems like this team has been somebody else every night. I'm excited to be a part of this team and a lot of these guys help each other out, a lot of these guys help me out. It's nice to be able to contribute."

Making the big night all the more gratifying for Ross was the fact he came into the game in a slump and spent extra time in the cage before the game.

"The way I'm swinging, I'm just aiming to try and see the ball and get a hit," said Ross, who improved his average to .241. "It's a lot of work and I was here early for hitting today just trying to figure some things out and just constantly working. It's a constant battle for me and getting in rhythm. It was nice to have a great game."

Ryan Dempster, who had only received 2.63 runs of support per game in his first four starts with Boston, finally got some offense to work with while picking up his first win with his new team.

The veteran right-hander walked three and struck out 10, lowering his ERA to 3.30.

"That's a nice feeling, for sure," said Dempster. "It was a good game -- a lot of excitement. Great game by David Ross. What a catch by Jonny Gomes in the outfield. Just a little bit of everything today. It's always nice to get the first win out of the way, especially the first one with a new team, and hopefully I can build off that and work toward another."

Jacoby Ellsbury had a milestone stolen base in the bottom of the sixth -- the 200th of his career. He became the third player in Red Sox history to reach that mark, joining Harry Hooper and Tris Speaker. Ellsbury's 11 stolen bases lead the Majors.

"When he's healthy, he's one of the more dynamic players in the big leagues," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "Whether it's on the basepaths or the ability for extra-base potential in the box, he's doing that again."

The Red Sox jumped out in the first. Ellsbury led off with an infield hit before Dustin Pedroia belted a one-out double off the Green Monster, and Ellsbury raced home from first.

Ross extended the lead to 2-0 in the second when he launched a solo shot over the Monster.

"Yeah, he's just locked in right now," said Dempster. "It's pretty incredible. What a day, 4-for-4. It's awesome."

Dempster gave one back in the top of the third. Matt Dominguez started the rally with a double and moved to third on a flyout to center. He scored on a fielder's-choice grounder by Robbie Grossman.

But Astros starter Erik Bedard was unable to have a single clean inning.

"It's always tough when the starter does not go deep into the game and you go to your bullpen early and you're behind the eight ball and behind in the game as well," said Astros manager Bo Porter. "At some point, we're going to need these guys to start to go deeper into the game."

Pedroia belted his second double of the night down the line in right with one out in the third. With two outs, Mike Napoli ripped an RBI double. It was Napoli's 17th extra-base hit and 12th double, both of which set Red Sox records for April, and he doubled again in the seventh.

Middlebrooks and Ross got the bottom of the fourth off to a rousing start, belting back-to-back homers over the Monster to make it a 5-1 game. At that point, Porter decided that was enough for Bedard.

The Astros got another run in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Jose Altuve. Gomes prevented further damage by making a sensational diving catch in left to rob Jason Castro of extra bases. Ranging toward the line, Gomes completely sprawled out to snag the baseball.

Despite getting off to a rough start at the plate (.189 average, no homers, one RBI), Gomes continues to bring intangibles to the field every time he plays.

"There's two L's in this game -- there's leather and lumber," Gomes said. "Hopefully you can try and bring both every day but you've definitely got to leave the yard with at least bringing one of them. It was nice to make that catch. It was a big catch. It worked out."

Boston's offense kept bringing it. Ortiz ripped his second homer to center in as many nights, a solo shot that just cleared the wall, to make it 6-2 in the fifth.

Altuve had another sac fly in the seventh, but Gomes answered with an RBI single in the eighth.

For Gomes, it was his first RBI with the Red Sox.

"When the team is winning, no one is in a slump," said Gomes. "No one at all. I don't consider myself in a slump. I just haven't started yet. No harm, no foul. You've got guys hitting the ball over the fence."

And in some cases, into the parking lot.

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