CHICAGO -- After jumping to early leads and blowing out the White Sox in the first two games of the series at Guaranteed Rate Field, the Astros had to wait a few innings before flexing their offensive muscles Sunday afternoon.The Astros sent 10 batters to the plate and pushed across
CHICAGO -- After jumping to early leads and blowing out the White Sox in the first two games of the series at Guaranteed Rate Field, the Astros had to wait a few innings before flexing their offensive muscles Sunday afternoon.
The Astros sent 10 batters to the plate and pushed across five runs in the seventh inning, including a two-run, bases-loaded double by Marwin Gonzalez, and pulled away to win, 7-1, and sweep the White Sox for their sixth win in a row.
The Astros (16-7) outscored the White Sox, 26-2, in the series to match the 1980 and 2015 Houston clubs for the best 23-game start in franchise history. In the three games against Chicago, the Astros had 36 hits and drew 18 walks. They were 13-for-31 (.419) with runners in scoring position.
"We put a lot of pressure on them offensively and on the bases, and not giving up hardly any runs helps," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "Again, when we can play all facets of the game we are a tough team to match up with. We saw a lot of that this three-game series, being the aggressive team that puts up pretty good at-bats, some explosive innings and great pitching."
Lance McCullers (3-1) continued the Astros' terrific starting pitching by limiting the White Sox to one run on eight hits in six innings. Astros starters have a 2.10 ERA this season, including a 1.32 ERA in the team's last 10 games.
"For the most part, I felt pretty good," said McCullers, who was on the mound for two of the four double plays the Astros turned. "You had to grind through some innings and that's all part of it. I made some big pitches when I needed to, the defense made some big plays and got a win."
Jose Altuve's RBI single in the seventh off reliever Bruce Rondon gave the Astros a 2-1 lead, and Alex Bregman singled with the bases loaded to make it 3-1. Gonzalez tagged the first pitch he saw from reliever Nate Jones and hit a ground-rule double to left-center to stretch the lead to 5-1.
"That whole inning was full of really good at-bats," Hinch said. "Overall, another big inning for us and we needed it on a day that was pretty slow to develop because of their pitcher."
Gonzalez went 1-for-5, but the player who led the World Series champions a year ago with 90 RBIs smacked a two-run, bases-loaded double on Saturday and Sunday. In fact, both hits would have cleared the bases had they not been ground-rule doubles, so the bounces over the fence cost Gonzalez a couple of RBIs.
"To be honest, I don't really care, because how I am right now, I'm hoping for a base hit," Gonzalez said with a smile. "Even if it was a base-hit RBI I was going to take it. I'm not thinking that much about those RBIs. Yeah, it cost me two RBIs, but all I want right now is to get comfortable and get the confidence back."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Jake Marisnick ignited the Astros' five-run seventh inning with a pinch-hit single. The knock snapped an 0-for-22 funk for Marisnick, who had struck out 27 times in his first 51 plate appearances this season. Marisnick went to second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored the eventual game-winning run on Altuve's single to mark the first run he's scored since April 3.
"Just to help contribute and help win that game and get on base for the guys behind me -- they put some at-bats together -- it's a step in the right direction, so just keep going off that," Marisnick said.
• These guys are making it easy for the bullpen
Relief pitcher Will Harris recorded his 19th consecutive scoreless appearance on the road, the longest active streak in the Major Leagues.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The White Sox unsuccessfully challenged a call in the third inning, contending that Yoan Moncada slid safely across home plate ahead of the tag from catcher Max Stassi, who took a throw from Josh Reddick in right field following a Jose Abreu single. The call stood, and Moncada was out.
The Astros open a 10-game homestand Monday by sending Gerrit Cole to the mound to face the Angels at 7:10 p.m. CT. Cole (2-0, 0.96 ERA) has struck out 41 batters and allowed three earned runs in 28 innings in his first four starts with Houston. Lefty Tyler Skaggs will start for the Angels.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.