Daisuke Matsuzaka makes first minor league rehab start

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Daisuke Matsuzaka officially kicked off his minor league rehab assignment tonight with High-A Salem. Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com has the details.

Matsuzaka, who underwent Tommy John surgery last June, allowed three runs on six hits over four innings while striking out three and walking none. He gave up two runs in the first inning (including a home run to the first batter he faced) and another solo homer in he second. Dice-K was pulled after throwing 40 out of 57 pitches for strikes.

Matsuzaka can spend a maximum of 30 days on his rehab assignment, so he’s on pace to make around five total starts in the minors before returning to the majors at some point next month. The Red Sox appear committed to keeping Daniel Bard in the rotation, but Dice-K could be an alternative if there is a change of plans. Aaron Cook, who is pitching well with Triple-A Pawtucket, is another option if a change is made in the rotation.

Matsuzaka, 31, is owed $10 million this season in the final year of his six-year, $52 million contract.

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.