Solid starting pitching has the Houston Astros in the midst of a rare winning streak.
Dallas Keuchel , who has been impressive of late, looks to lead Houston to a fourth straight win Sunday when he gets the nod against the Chicago White Sox.
Houston (25-44) beat Chicago 4-3 on Saturday to record only the club's third winning streak of three or more games this season. The starting rotation has played a big part, posting a 1.37 ERA across 19 2-3 innings.
Going back further, Astros starter own a 2.42 ERA over the last 19 games while the team is 11-8.
Lucas Harrell gave them another strong start Saturday, giving up seven hits and three runs while striking out a season-high seven over 6 2-3 innings.
Homers from Jason Castro and Chris Carter in the fourth led Houston's offense. Carter, who leads the team with 36 RBIs, is the first Houston player with 14 or more home runs by June 15 since Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee in 2008.
Keuchel (3-3, 4.37 ERA) tries to continue his own strong run, as he owns a 1.89 ERA over his last three starts, pitching at least six innings in each.
The left-hander's bid for a fourth victory in five starts was upended Monday, though he gave up just two runs and seven hits in six innings in a 3-2 loss at Seattle. Houston committed three errors and offered Keuchel only one run of support.
"It's nothing I get mad about," Keuchel, who had received 26 runs of support over his previous five outings, told the team's official website. "Like I said, they pick me up plenty of times, so it's just me trying to pick them up there."
The White Sox (28-37), who have lost 11 of 12 away from home, will counter with another southpaw in Hector Santiago (2-4, 3.12). Santiago, who has fluctuated between the rotation and the bullpen all season, made his first start since May 22 last Sunday, filling in for the injured Jake Peavy . He yielded two runs and four hits across 6 1-3 innings in a 4-3 victory over Oakland.
He's generally been a better option as a starter, going 2-2 with a 2.67 ERA in six starts as opposed to an 0-2 record and 3.93 ERA in 11 relief appearances.
"When stuff like this happens, you take advantage of it and just run with it," Santiago said. "We're all hoping for Peavy to come back as soon as possible, but for now, I'll enjoy the role."
Santiago was charged with two runs, a walk and a hit in 1 1-3 innings of relief against Houston on June 8, 2012.
Alejandro De Aza was 0 for 4 Saturday, rejoining the lineup after missing Friday's game with a stomach ailment.
Adam Dunn hit his team-leading 18th homer Saturday, and is batting .429 with five home runs in his last six games after hitting .111 with two homers in his previous 15. He is, however, 5 for 53 (.094) with 21 strikeouts against lefties on the season.
The 25-year-old Keuchel has never faced a current White Sox player.
|Chicago White Sox|
|June 15, 2013||Alejandro De Aza||Day-to-Day||Illness|
|June 05, 2013||Jake Peavy||15-Day DL||Fractured rib - out 4-6 weeks|
|June 04, 2013||Jake Peavy||Day-to-Day||Left game - Rib pain|
|May 30, 2013||Dewayne Wise||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|May 22, 2013||Chris Sale||Day-to-Day||Left shoulder tendinitis|
|May 02, 2013||Dewayne Wise||Day-to-Day||Stiff neck|
|May 26, 2013||Edgar Gonzalez||15-Day DL||Strained right shoulder|
|May 21, 2013||Bud Norris||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back spasms|
|May 13, 2013||Bud Norris||Day-to-Day||Left game - Back spasms|
|April 24, 2013||Justin Maxwell||15-Day DL||Fractured left hand|
|April 20, 2013||J.D. Martinez||15-Day DL||Sprained right knee|
|April 20, 2013||J.D. Martinez||15-Day DL||Sprained right knee|
HOUSTON (AP) -- As of two games ago, Jason Castro had never hit a homer off a left-hander.
Now Houston's left-handed hitting catcher has done it twice.
Castro homered for the second straight game and Matt Dominguez hit a three-run double to help the Astros to their fourth straight win, 5-4 over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.
Dominguez put Houston on top 3-0 with a double in the second inning, and Castro hit a two-run shot to make it 5-2 in the seventh.
The left-handed Castro hit his first career home run off a left-hander on Saturday night when he connected off John Danks , and made it two when he hit a slider from Matt Thornton on Sunday.
"Jason has definitely found his groove and understands exactly what it is he's doing," manager Bo Porter said of Castro, whose first 16 homers came against right-handers. "He's healthy, his legs are underneath him, and it's allowing him to put together an All-Star type season."
He has a career-high 10 home runs this season, the second-most among catchers in the American League.
"I'm feeling comfortable," Castro said. "There's some things I've been working on with some of my pitch recognition and things like that. So I think it's coming along. It's definitely a work in progress."
Alejandro De Aza tripled and scored in the sixth, and Dayan Viciedo tripled and scored in the seventh to cut the lead to 3-2. De Aza added a two-out, two-run homer off Jose Veras to make it 5-4 in the ninth before Alexei Ramirez grounded out to give Veras his 14th save.
Houston starter Dallas Keuchel (4-3) yielded four hits and two runs in 6 1-3 innings for the win. He continued a streak of solid starting pitching for the Astros, whose starters have gone 11-8 with a 3.03 ERA since May 15.
"The starting pitching has been tremendous," Porter said. "You look at this stretch in which we've played really good baseball ... it starts and ends with those guys on the mound."
Hector Santiago (2-5) allowed five hits and three runs with eight strikeouts in 5 1-3 innings.
The AL-Central-worst White Sox have dropped four straight overall and 12 of their last 13 road games to fall 10 games under .500 (28-38) for the first time since May 7, 2011. They have had trouble scoring in this span and have been outscored 71-41.
"Offensively, we are not getting it done," Chicago's Adam Dunn said. "If I could sit here and put a finger on why (I would), but I can't. For once, I am speechless. I don't know why our offense is sputtering.
"We have the talent. We have everyone in place. We just aren't producing."
Chris Carter singled with one out in the second before Santiago issued consecutive walks to load the bases. Dominguez cleared the bases with a double which skidded down the left field line, just out of reach of a diving Jeff Keppinger to make it 3-0. He advanced to third on the throw home.
Brandon Barnes robbed Viciedo of a hit when he raced up Tal's Hill in center field and made an over-the-shoulder grab before falling and rolling into the wall to start the second inning.
The White Sox got their first hit the next batter when Dunn singled. But Keuchel retired the following nine hitters, with Chicago's next runner coming when Keppinger walked with one out in the fifth.
De Aza tripled to start the sixth inning, and Chicago cut the lead to 3-1 when he scored on a sacrifice fly by Ramirez.
Viciedo led off the seventh with a triple and scored on a one-out single by Keppinger that got Chicago within 3-2 and chased Keuchel.
He was replaced by Jose Cisnero who was greeted with a single by Gordon Beckham before pinch-hitter Conor Gillaspie walked to load the bases. Cisnero escaped the jam by striking out De Aza before Ramirez grounded out to end the inning.
NOTES: Houston's game on Saturday night ended when Veras picked off Jordan Danks at second base. It was the first time in franchise history that a game was ended by an Astros pitcher picking off a runner, according to information provided by the team from the Elias Sports Bureau. ... The series wraps up on Monday when Houston's Bud Norris opposes Jose Quintana . Norris has a 2.28 ERA in eight starts at home this season. ... Houston OF Justin Maxwell , on the disabled list with a broken bone in his left hand, went 1 for 3 in a rehabilitation game with Triple-A Oklahoma City on Saturday. Porter said he doesn't have a timetable for his return to the Astros. ... White Sox OF Dewayne Wise , on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring, went 1 for 3 with a triple in a rehabilitation game with Triple-A Charlotte on Saturday. ... Astros' top prospect Jonathan Singleton , who finished a 50-game drug suspension late last month, has been promoted to Oklahoma City after hitting .263 with two homers and eight RBIs in 11 games for Double-A Corpus Christi.