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Astros 6, White Sox 5: One big hit short

Offense nearly climbs out of early hole, but problems with runners in scoring position hamper comeback effort

Scott Halleran

Considering Hector Noesi dug a 4-0 hole before he even retired the second batter of the game, one could make the argument that the White Sox made this game more interesting than it deserved to be.

Then again, the Astros are the worst team in the American League, and Jared Cosart didn't look at all that sharp. Together, they gave the Sox plenty of chances to take control of this game, but the Sox just couldn't quite get over the hump. They went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position, and needed eight innings to break the 0-fer.

Meanwhile, the Astros delivered a couple of kill shots -- Jason Castro's three-run homer in the first inning, and Dexter Fowler's solo shot in the fifth inning. Add in a Sox-aided run in the seventh, and that was too much offense for the White Sox to overcome this afternoon.

The Astros batted around in the first inning off Noesi, but he settled down admirably afterward. After covering just a narrow range of speeds in the first inning -- basically a 91-mph fastball and an 87-mph slider -- he started ramping up his fastball and mixing in a curve, and that got the Astros off his scent.

He allowed the Sox to slowly climb back into it, but they could only scratch out runs via the productive out. They used a couple of sacrifice flies in the second to cut the Astros' lead in half, although Alejandro De Aza dashed dreams of a bigger inning when he was thrown out at third to turn Moises Sierra's sac fly into a 9-3-5 double play.

Jose Abreu drove in another run with a groundout in the third, but they stranded a runner in scoring position over the next three innings. They finally snapped out of it in the eighth inning, with Alejandro De Aza delivered yet another sac fly (which looked more promising off the bat, but overspin caused it to sink on the warning track), and a Gordon Beckham RBI single.

That brought Conor Gillaspie to the plate with a tying run on second, but lefty Darin Downs put him in an 0-2 hole, and he finished the job by getting a harmless popout in foul territory.

Chad Qualls nailed down the save with a 1-2-3 ninth.

Noesi did a nice job of limiting the Astros over their last seven innings at the plate after an awful first, but two single runs proved costly. Dexter Fowler took him into the Crawford Boxes in the fifth inning to stretch the lead to 5-3, and a series of bad decisions put another earned run on his account in the seventh.

What were those decisions?

  1. Robin Ventura used Noesi to start the seventh, even though he'd thrown 106 pitches. That's automatically press-your-luck territory, and Noesi gave up a single to George Springer.
  2. In came Scott Downs, who tried a quick step-off pickoff move, and ended up skidding an awful toss between Adam Dunn's legs. That put the runner in scoring position.
  3. Fowler singled in the run, and Dunn didn't cut off the throw, allowing Fowler to take second.

Downs and Daniel Webb ended up stranding the second run, but it proved to be decisive enough.

Bullet points:

*Moises Sierra saved Noesi two more runs in the first inning with an incredible diving catch on a flyball by Marwin Gonzalez. A full sprint and full extension were required to pick the ball off the turf.

*Jose Abreu and his bad ankle looked uncomfortable all day, and Paul Konerko ended up pinch-hitting for him in the seventh.

*Robin Ventura won his third challenge of the season when De Aza was initially ruled out on a steal of second in the top of the sixth. That gave the Sox three chances at driving in a run, but Tyler Flowers and Sierra struck out, and Beckham grounded out.

Record: 21-23 | Box score | Play-by-play | Highlights