CHICAGO (AP) — The Houston Astros got back in the win column after blowing late leads in consecutive losses — not exactly shocking considering they own the best record in the American League.
The AL West-leading Astros hung on after squandering eighth-inning leads in the first two games of the series. The White Sox trail AL Central-leading Cleveland by two games.
“We got the victory,” manager Dusty Baker said. “We stopped the losing streak.”
The Astros can salvage a split in a series that started with two gut-wrenching losses. This one was hardly easy, but they did just enough.
Valdez (12-4) delivered his 20th consecutive quality start, matching a club record set by Mike Scott in his 1986 Cy Young Award season. The left-hander gave up two runs and seven hits, struck out six and walked three. He is 4-0 in six outings since losing to Oakland on July 9.
Alvarez delivered a sacrifice fly in the first after Jose Altuve led off with a four-pitch walk and stole two bases. He singled and scored on Trey Mancini’s sac fly in the fourth, and Chas McCormick added an RBI double in the inning against Michael Kopech (4-9) to put Houston on top 3-0.
“I was able to slow down a bit, I was throwing a little bit too fast between pitches,” Valdez said through a translator. “I was able to slow down, I was able to just focus and get that out.”
“We’ve been fighting,” Kopech said. “That goes a long ways. What we did in the last five before tonight was impressive and staying in there with them tonight and keeping the game close I think we played hard. As long as we can keep doing that, I think we’re in a good spot.”
Ryan Pressly pitched the ninth for his 24th save in 28 chances.
The White Sox were hurt by three double plays. They were 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position and left seven on base.
Kopech was nowhere near as dominant after tossing six no-hit innings against Detroit last week. The right-hander went six innings in this one, allowing three runs and five hits. He struck out two after whiffing a career-high 11 in his previous start.
FAN ON FIELD
Play was stopped for a few minutes in the eighth when a boy got onto the center-field warning track. He pumped his fist as he was escorted down the left-field line and off the field.
Astros: The Astros placed OF Aledmys Díaz (left groin discomfort) on the 10-day injured list. He was headed back to Houston, and Baker had no timeline on his return. “I'm just hoping we caught it before it became too serious because they can linger pretty badly,” he said. The Astros recalled INF JJ Matijevic from Triple-A Sugar Land.
White Sox: CF Luis Robert (sprained left wrist) had an injection Tuesday, and manager Tony La Russa insisted a stint on the IL is not in the works. “There's no reason for him to go,” La Russa said. “It's just a question of when he can swing normally and not hold back. There's nothing damaged in there that we have to protect.” Robert was out of the lineup for the fifth straight game, though he ran for Eloy Jiménez in the eighth. ... The White Sox placed INF/OF Leury Garcia (strained lower back) on the 10-day IL and recalled INF Romy González from Triple-A Charlotte. La Russa said he's “very optimistic” Garcia will be ready to return when he's eligible.
RHP Lucas Giolito (9-6, 4.92 ERA) tries to win his fourth straight start, while RHP Luis García (9-8, 4.03) gets the ball for Houston as the teams wrap up the series. Giolito has a 3.71 ERA in his past three outings. Garcia beat Oakland last week after losing his previous three starts.
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