Astros stay hot with lumber in rout of White Sox
Dominguez homers twice; Peacock earns first win of season
HOUSTON -- The Astros did what they were supposed to do at home for the last week, winning a pair of series to keep their season from spiraling further downwards. Houston continued to get strong starting pitching while riding an offensive resurgence that has the team brimming with confidence as it hits the road for the season's longest road trip.
While starting pitcher Brad Peacock was delivering another quality start, the Astros enjoyed one of their biggest games of the season offensively Sunday afternoon by getting three homers -- including a pair of two-run blasts from Matt Dominguez -- to rout the White Sox, 8-2, at Minute Maid Park.
"It's a good confidence-builder," Peacock said. "Our hitters came out swinging, and they looked great. It's good confidence for them and good confidence for us. It worked out well."
The Astros, winners of five of their last seven games, went 4-2 on their homestand -- with series wins over the Rangers and the White Sox -- marking the first time this year they've won consecutive series. They open a 10-game road trip on Monday in Anaheim.
"It's always good when you can win series," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "It's definitely even better when you can do it at home in front of your home crowd. This was definitely a good homestand, and we want to keep the momentum as we go out on the road."
Dominguez, batting in the cleanup spot, became the first Astros player this season to hit multiple homers in a game when he hit two-run shots to left field in the third and fifth inning off White Sox starter John Danks (3-4). Chris Carter hit a solo homer in the second.
"We're playing good baseball and have some good pitching and good starts from some guys and the bullpen's been great," Dominguez said. "We've been getting guys on and getting them in the past two series."
Peacock (1-4) held the White Sox to five hits and two runs in 6 2/3 innings. Houston starters have allowed four runs or fewer in each of their last 13 games, with a 3.48 ERA in that span.
Peacock has gone at least six innings in each of his last four outings, but he hadn't won since beating the Mariners last Sept. 11. Porter said Peacock has been pitching to the top of the strike zone more in his last two starts, which has helped him all around.
"When you can throw 92 to 95 [mph] and you can paint down and away and you can go to the top of the zone and you throw your breaking ball, curveball and slider coming out of the same spot, it can really allow you so many different ways to attack hitters," Porter said. "I think he's found that out his last two starts."
Peacock threw a few curveballs to get ahead in the count and even threw some changeups to start batters off, which are signs he's confident in all of his pitches.
"His confidence is really sky high right now," Porter said. "You can tell a guy is really confident when he's not afraid to challenge with his fastball, and he's gaining more and more confidence to throw his slider -- even when he's behind in the count."
Carter led off the second with his sixth homer, Jesus Guzman followed with a walk and L.J. Hoes doubled. Jonathan Villar scored them both on a single to left field one out later to push the lead to 3-0. Villar went to second when left fielder Alejandro De Aza allowed the ball to get past him, and then scored when he stole third and trotted home on catcher Adrian Nieto's throwing error.
The White Sox cut the lead to 4-1 in the third and had the bases loaded with no outs later in the inning before Peacock got Gordon Beckham to hit into a 1-2-3 double play and Conor Gillaspie to fly out.
"That was a big play there, the 1-2-3 double play," Porter said. "I felt like Peacock did a good job of taking his time. A lot of times, one person or another rushes and that play is not completed, but Peacock did a good job taking his time giving [catcher Carlos] Corporan the ball with enough time to clear himself from the runner, and Corporan made a strong throw to first base. That was a really big play for them to only get out of that inning with one run."
In the third, Dominguez followed a Dexter Fowler double with a long homer to left-center to make it 6-1, and he followed a Fowler walk in the fifth with another two-run shot to stretch the lead to 8-1. Fowler drew a walk in his eighth consecutive game, which is the longest streak by an Astros player since Morgan Ensberg walked in nine in a row in 2006.
"I think they were swinging it good," Danks said. "Any time you get the ball up, especially in this park, you create a lot of problems, getting guys on base. And Dominguez had a good day swinging the bat. He has a lot of power, and any time you put it in there, in his happy zone, he can get rid of it."