BOSTON

Mitch Moreland put some recent struggles behind him with a clutch hit in the ninth inning. Helped the major league-leading Boston Red Sox do the same with their weekend woes, too.

Moreland singled in the winning run with two outs in the ninth and the Red Sox beat the Houston Astros 6-5 on Sunday night to avoid a three-game sweep in a matchup of AL division leaders.

Coming into the game in a 2-for-26 slump, the first baseman had a pinch-hit single in the eighth before his walk-off bloop.

“Yeah, he gets jammed and he gets a single,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said, adding “we need this guy to get going offensively. We know how good he is.”

With runners on first and second, Moreland sent his opposite-single to left against Hector Rondon (2-3), and pinch-runner Tzu-Wei Lin raced home easily. Left fielder Marwin Gonzalez tried to barehand the ball for a quick throw but lost his grip and let it dribble toward the Green Monster.

J.D. Martinez hit his 40th homer and drove in four for Boston, which snapped Houston’s seven-game winning streak even after the Astros rallied with a four-run sixth inning to tie the game at 5.

The East-leading Red Sox sliced their magic number to 11 for their third straight division title. Boston leads the second place Yankees by 8 ? games after they lost at Seattle.

Jose Altuve and Gonzalez each hit a solo homer for the West-leading Astros, who saw their lead over Oakland cut to 2 1/2 games. The Athletics beat Texas earlier in the day.

“This was a really good game, really good series,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. “We win this series, which is one of the goals coming into this.”

Craig Kimbrel (5-1) pitched a perfect ninth to preserve a tie.

Trailing 5-1 in the sixth, the Astros rallied against starter Rick Porcello and Boston’s recently struggling bullpen. Altuve led off with a shot over the Monster, Tyler White had a two-run double off Heath Hembree, and Josh Reddick hit a tying double off Brian Johnson.

Boston had built its lead on Martinez’s three-run shot an inning earlier. Martinez’s sacrifice fly had pushed Boston ahead 2-1 in the third.

The Red Sox loaded the bases with one out in the eighth inning, but reliever Tony Sipp entered and struck out pinch-hitters Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez.

Porcello gave up four runs in 5 2/3 innings.

UP NEXT — Red Sox: After an off day today, Sale (12-4, 1.97) is set to face Toronto LHP Ryan Borucki (3-4, 4.39) when the teams open a three-game series Tuesday at Fenway.

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