For the first time since July 5, Red Sox DH David Ortiz is not in the lineup. The designated hitter — coming off of back-to-back four-hit games — will sit on Thursday against Bruce Chen and the Royals. Mike Napoli will serve as the Sox DH, Jonny Gomes is in left against the left-hander and Daniel Nava, back from his three-game paternity leave after the birth of his first child, will get the start against Chen and play first base.

NESN Red Sox analyst Dennis Eckersley checked in with Mut & Merloni on Thursday morning, and the former standout pitcher spoke highly of a number of Red Sox hurlers, most notably closer Koji Uehara.

In this universe, the fact that Jon Lester is taking the mound for the Red Sox in Kansas City on Thursday represents something of a rarity.

Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning, and with the Red Sox’ come-from-behind win over the Astros Wednesday night meaning they have surpassed their 2012 win total, Lucchino had plenty of praise for first-year manager John Farrell.

HOUSTON – Thursday will bring more isolation for Daniel Bard.

HOUSTON — Stephen Drew played the hero this time.

With one out in the ninth inning, runners on first and second and the Red Sox trailing by a run, Stephen Drew deposited a Josh Fields pitch into the right field seats to hand the visitors a 7-5 win over the Astros, Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park.

HOUSTON — The Red Sox placed reliever Matt Thornton on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with a left oblique strain, recalling Pedro Beato from Triple-A Pawtucket to take his place on the 25-man roster.

Thornton originally hurt his his oblique during an appearance Sunday afternoon against Arizona on his fourth pitch of his outing.

With right-hander Jarred Cosart on the mound for the Astros, slumping first baseman Mike Napoli will get the day off. Mike Carp will play first and bat fifth, while Jonny Gomes will bat sixth and play left. The left-handed hitting Brock Holt is back in the lineup at third base, with catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia batting eighth, behind shortstop Stephen Drew.

ESPN baseball reporter Buster Olney checked in with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday afternoon, and while acknowledging the Red Sox could use another piece or two — specifically a bat or a right-handed reliever — he said finding it at this time of year will be next to impossible.

There is always the possibility of an August waiver-wire deal, of course, and names like Brewers righty Mike Gonzalez or Rockies righty Rafael Betancourt may sounds appealing.

Fox Sports baseball reporter Ken Rosenthal joined Dennis & Callahan to discuss more of the fallout from the Biogenesis suspensions, and even though Alex Rodriguez has had nothing go his way of late, Rosenthal is not ready to make the blanket statement that the embattled Yankee star will never make the Hall of Fame.