Red Sox or not, Jason Varitek plans to keep playing in 2011

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Whether or not it’ll be with the Red Sox remains to be seen, but Jason Varitek said yesterday that he plans to play somewhere in 2011.
Varitek has been out since June 30 with a broken foot and played sparingly as Victor Martinez’s backup even before the injury, logging a total of 105 plate appearances and 23 starts through 79 team games, but the 38-year-old done well in the limited action by hitting .263/.324/.547 for his highest OPS since 2004.
He’s also thrown out 21 percent of stolen base attempts after falling to a career-low 13 percent last season, so Varitek should have no trouble finding a job for next season. And while he’ll no doubt have to take a pay cut from the $8 million he’s earned over the past two seasons, Varitek may even find an opportunity for more playing time than he’s gotten behind Martinez in Boston.
He went 1-for-2 with a sacrifice fly and also threw out a runner in his first rehab game at Triple-A yesterday and could be activated from the disabled list as soon as tomorrow. And with Martinez also an impending free agent, returning to Boston in 2011 for a 15th season with the Red Sox probably can’t be ruled out.

Astros extend winning streak to 11 games

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The Astros rallied late to keep their winning streak alive, extending it to 11 games with a 7-4 victory over the Royals on Sunday afternoon. The club is now 48-25, leading the Mariners by a full game in the AL West.

The Royals took a 4-2 lead after three innings, but Brian McCann knocked in a run with a single in the top of the fourth to cut the deficit to one run. Carlos Correa hit a game-tying solo home run in the eighth. The Astros kept their foot on the gas, scoring two more runs on RBI singles from Evan Gattis and Marwin Gonzalez in the top of the eighth and another in the top of the ninth on Correa’s sacrifice fly.

Starter Lance McCullers allowed four runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks with nine strikeouts over six innings. Tony Sipp worked a scoreless seventh. Ken Giles did the same in the eighth. Hector Rondon finished off the win in the ninth, working around a one-out walk with a game-ending double play.

After winning all 10 games on their road trip against the Rangers, Athletics, and Royals, the Astros will head home for a nine-game homestand against the Rays, Royals, and Blue Jays. Each club is below .500.