Joe Kelly allowed three home runs in the Red Sox' loss Wednesday night. (Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Closing Time: Joe Kelly allows 3 home runs in Red Sox' 7th straight loss

Ryan Hannable
July 22, 2015 - 6:57 pm

It was not the return to the big leagues Joe Kelly or the Red Sox were looking for. Making his first major league start since June 23, Kelly returned from Pawtucket and allowed three home runs on the way to taking his sixth loss of the season, as the Astros beat the Red Sox 4-2 Wednesday night in Houston. It was the seventh straight loss for the Red Sox, which ties a season-high. Preston Tucker homered as the second batter of the game against Kelly to put the Red Sox in a quick 1-0 hole. Then in the fourth, Evan Gattis hit a solo homer and Tucker hit his second homer in the fifth, a two-run shot, which gave the Astros a 4-0 lead. Kelly finished the game going 5 1/3 innings, allowing the four runs on six hits, while walking one and striking out six. His ERA is now 5.74 on the year. "I thought [Kelly] made some big pitches with his fastball," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "He gets a couple of called strikes looking. I thought he changed eye level with some fastballs. but a couple pitches out over the plate. And in an unforgiving ballpark such as this, it makes you pay for it. but I thought he made some big pitches. He was down in the strike zone more consistently than when he left here. Threw some fastballs in to righties and lefties, which we had hoped to get accomplished. But in the end, we'€™re on the wrong side of it." Trailing 4-0 entering the sixth, the Red Sox scored two runs -- the first courtesy of an RBI double from Dustin Pedroia and the second on a Xander Bogaerts single. The Sox had a chance for more with runners on second and third with one out, but Hanley Ramirez struck out and Alejandro De Aza flew out to left to end the threat. The Red Sox also had the first two batters reach in the seventh, but failed to score. The home run ball hasn't just been an issue for Kelly. Red Sox pitchers have allowed 13 home runs in the last six games, which accounts for 18 of the 34 runs allowed. The Red Sox now reside 11 games out of first-place in the American League East, and 11 games under .500. Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox' loss: WHAT WENT WRONG -- The Red Sox needed Kelly to be better as he didn't give the Sox much of a chance to win. It was the first time in his major league career he's allowed three homers in a game. It was his first game this season where he's allowed multiple home runs, as he entered allowing eight in 14 starts. "It felt good [to be back]. Especially today my stuff felt good out there," he said. "Fastball for the most part was doing what I wanted it to do. Guys put some swings especially here, put some good balls in the air that went over the fence." -- Ramirez went 1-for-3 in the game and was the tying run in each of his last two at-bats, but was retired both times. He's now 2-for-21 since the All-Star break. WHAT WENT RIGHT -- Pedroia's double snapped an 0-for-20 skid since his return from the disabled list last Friday. Prior to the game manager John Farrell defended the decision not to send Pedroia out on a rehab assignment. -- Bogaerts continues to swing a hot bat. The shortstop went 1-for-4 in the game and now leads all hitters in the majors in hitting since May 31, as he is batting .354. (Rob Bradford contributed to this report from Houston)