Kevin Youkilis exits early Thursday, but expects to play Friday

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Kevin Youkilis put a little fright into Red Sox Nation* on Thursday night when he made an eighth-inning exit from the club’s 6-2 victory over the Orioles.

It turns out he’s going to be just fine.

According to the great Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, Youk** told reporters after the game that he only jammed his hip and expects to play in Friday’s series opener against the visiting Mariners. He initially got banged up in the first inning Thursday while trying to break up a double play and thought it wise to make a precautionary early exit.

“I just slid and it got a little locked up,” the third baseman said late Thursday. “As the game went on, it locked up a little bit more, but I should be good to play [Friday]. It was bugging me, and Tito said, ‘Give it a rest so you can play tomorrow.’ “

Youkilis, 32, is sporting a team-best .869 OPS through 94 plate appearances this season. If the Red Sox want to play it safe, they can start Jed Lowrie at the hot corner Friday and Marco Scutaro at shortstop.

*A dumb and unoriginal nickname
**A dumb and unoriginal nickname

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.