The start of the second half looked an awful lot like the first -- with the bullpen throwing shutdown innings and Dayan Viciedo and Tyler Flowers bringing the clutch.
White Sox pitchers retired the last 22 Astros they faced, while the offense climbed out of a 2-0 hole. Viciedo tied it up in the bottom of the sixth by taking a rolling Scott Feldman curveball out of the park to center, and one inning later, Flowers drove in Alejandro De Aza with a laser double to the left-center gap. The bullpen took it the rest of the way, with Zach Putnam striking out two in a 1-2-3 ninth for his second save.
If you're losing your grip on sanity and need something real to cling to, Viciedo played a big part in why the Sox trailed 2-0. Jose Quintana allowed a leadoff single to Matt Dominguez, and a harder single by Jon Singleton followed ... except Viciedo failed to cut it off, and it got past him for an RBI triple. A groundout that could've been a double play ball instead scored another run, and the Astros led by two.
Quintana gave up a soft single to L.J. Hoes with two outs, and little did anybody know that another Astro wouldn't reach base the rest of the night. Quintana started the stretch by retiring the last 10 he faced, but early inefficiency issues cost him. He threw 55 pitches over the first two innings, and needed 106 pitches to complete five. At least he had eight strikeouts to show for it.
The rest of the team picked him up. Daniel Webb threw two perfect innings, striking out three. He picked up the win in Quintana's stead as the offense went to work. Jose Abreu drew a five-pitch walk with one out in the sixth, and looked set to be stranded there after Adam Dunn popped out for the second out. Viciedo came to the plate, and Feldman started him off with a slow, fat curve. Viciedo was ready for the off-speed pitch, and crushed it over the wall in center for the game-tying homer.
One inning later, De Aza reached when he hit a soft liner just enough Altuves high to clear Jose Altuve's outstretched glove. He stole second, but Flowers' double would've scored him from first. He found a 3-1 sinker to his liking and rifled it into the left-center gap for the lead. Two batters later, Alexei Ramirez got full extension on a 2-0 cutter and thought he put enough inot it, but it died on the warning track for the final out. The Sox didn't need those runs, because Ronald Belisario and Putnam each pitched a scoreless inning to preserve the margin.
The ball wasn't carrying tonight, resulting in a number of warning-track flies for both sides. Dunn came the closest you'll ever see to hitting a homer without hitting a homer, as his bid for an opposite-field solo shot in the fourth inning hit the top of the wall, bounced up, hit the top of the wall again, and rolled back into play. He settled for a double, and didn't score after Viciedo grounded out to end the inning.
That was the second time the Sox came agonizingly close to scoring without doing so. The other missed opportunity came in the first, when Adam Eaton led off with a triple, but was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a shallowish flyball to right. He thought he beat the throw, and after Robin Ventura challenged it, the replay showed he did -- except his front foot bounced over the plate instead of on it as the tag came down.
You could call that a bad break, too, but it was a worse send, because Abreu stood on deck with one out. When he followed with a double down the left-field line, Joe McEwing might've kicked himself. Thanks to the stout bullpen and a just-enough offense, that regret will be easier to swallow.
*The Astros padded their league-leading strikeout total with 14. It's not surprising when Chris Carter wears the golden sombrero, but it's worth noting when Altuve wears a silver one.
*Each manager ended up on the wrong end of a replay, as an umpire review of Jason Castro's close call down the right-field line was confirmed as a foul ball, not a home run.
Record: 46-51 | Box score | Play-by-play | Highlights