When Xander Bogaerts stepped up to the plate in the eighth inning Monday night at Fenway Park, with most of the crowd dispersed after a lengthy rain delay, a chant could be heard loud and clear from the hundreds that remained.
“Renew the contract with Xander!” They sang over and over.
Then the Red Sox shortstop granted them some affirmation of their wish.
Bogaerts proceeded to hammer a fastball off Houston reliever Hector Neris, a two-run homer to Lansdowne Street that was a game-winning hit in the Red Sox’ 6-3 win over the AL West-leading Astros. , to open a three-game series, which was interrupted by a rain delay of one hour and 38 minutes in the sixth inning.
For a Red Sox team that has routinely bottled up ninth-inning leads, it was more than enough breathing room for a wobbly bullpen. Hansel Robles allowed a leadoff single but rallied to earn his second save of the season and first since April 13.
Other takeaways from Monday’s victory:
* Trevor Story heard the boos in the Red Sox’s final homestand as his struggles continued through the first month, but he returned to Fenway with a strong performance in his return.
Story made probably his best defensive play since joining the Sox in the third inning, when Alex Bregman hit a hard grounder to his left that seemed destined to hit the right-field turf. But Story threw a big pitch before hitting a tough pitch from the knees to get Bregman out for the bottom of the inning.
Story then produced his best swing at Fenway Park in the seventh. After the Astros took a 3-2 lead against Matt Barnes, Story tied the game up again when he hit a Phil Maton slider that cleared the Monster to Lansdowne Street, an estimated 428-foot blast. It was his first home run at Fenway, and his second in five games after going his first 25 games without one.
* When he was acquired in the Andrew Benintendi trade last year, the Red Sox praised Franchy Cordero’s raw talent, a rare combination of power and speed, and what he could do when he combined it all. There haven’t been many opportunities for Cordero to show that athleticism, but he gave a glimpse Monday.
In the fifth, Cordero scored a run with his legs for the Red Sox. In an impressive display of his skills, he smashed a Jake Odorizzi fastball high on the Monster, with an exit velocity of 104.3 mph that slammed into the wall, which would usually only be good for a wall ball single, but he moved first. with a mission and slipped to second with a double.
Two batters later, Cordero moved to third when Jackie Bradley Jr. ground out, and then Odorizzi threw a pass that allowed Cordero to score from third for the go-ahead run that made the game 2-1.