HOUSTON -- After pounding the White Sox in their first six meetings against them this season, the Astros offered a reminder Sunday afternoon that they can win with pitching, defense and a little small ball as well.Dallas Keuchel allowed one run on six hits in seven innings and Marwin Gonzalez
HOUSTON -- After pounding the White Sox in their first six meetings against them this season, the Astros offered a reminder Sunday afternoon that they can win with pitching, defense and a little small ball as well.
Dallas Keuchel allowed one run on six hits in seven innings and Marwin Gonzalez executed a successful squeeze bunt in the seventh inning to score Yuli Gurriel with the go-ahead run and send the Astros to their sixth consecutive win, 2-1, to sweep a four-game series from the White Sox at Minute Maid Park.
"It's one of the things I'm proud of," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "We homered today, but at the same time, there was minimal offense. ... The ability to win when maybe you even shouldn't win or when you don't put up enough offense like the other side is a good feeling. [Keuchel] set the tone. You've got to win a lot of different ways over the course of a full season, and we do."
The Astros went 7-0 against the White Sox this season, outscoring them 56-16. Houston (61-31) is one game behind last year's World Series championship club for the team's best record after 92 games.
"It's pretty impressive." Keuchel said. "It's just a head nod to how these guys come in every day and expect to win, but prepare to win and get the job done when the time comes. That was a huge at-bat by Marwin in the bottom of the seventh, bunting with two strikes on the safety squeeze to get Yuli in. It just seems like everybody does their part and that's how we win."
Jose Altuve drilled a solo homer off White Sox starter Lucas Giolito to start the fourth inning and give Houston a 1-0 lead, extending the Astros' season-long streak of 15 games with at least one homer. Tim Anderson's sacrifice fly off Keuchel (6-8) in the seventh tied the game.
Keuchel recorded 16 ground-ball outs, two strikeouts and two fly-ball outs.
"I felt good, so that was the main thing," Keuchel said. "Not getting ahead of some of these guys kind of puts you in limbo with what you wanted to do, but I was fortunate enough that I made a few pitches and got a bunch of ground balls and got a win."
Gurriel led off the seventh with a double, went to third after tagging up on a Josh Reddick fly ball and scored when Gonzalez laid down a perfect bunt with an 0-2 count. That was only the third RBI for Gonzalez in his last 18 games.
"He does such a good job of slowing the game down in those situations," Hinch said. "We've seen him do it a couple of different times. He's our best bunter, and with one strike, he tries to bunt for a hit. He can handle the bat. It felt like that small-ball game the entire game."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Gonzalez, who led the Astros with 90 RBIs last year, is in a 6-for-57 slump with three RBIs since June 19, so he was determined to get his squeeze bunt down in the seventh. Hinch called for the play, and Gonzalez took a called strike from Giolito before fouling off a bunt to put himself in an 0-2 hole. He stuck with it and put down a well-placed bunt to score Gurriel easily.
"That was personal," Gonzalez said. "That was more like I was thinking I have to do my job. I couldn't do it when AJ wanted me to do it with the first two pitches. The pitcher was throwing a good game, and he was on his game today. I decided to try it again one more time."
By going 7-0 against the White Sox, the Astros swept an opponent in seven games or more in a season for the first time in team history.
HE SAID IT
"I don't think we've forgotten and the league's forgotten that he's really good when he locks in." -- Hinch, on Keuchel
The Astros will send Gerrit Cole (9-2, 2.70 ERA) to the mound for Monday's 7:10 p.m. CT opener against the A's, who open a four-game series at Minute Maid Park. Cole allowed fewer than four runs in each of his first 13 starts with Houston, but has allowed four earned runs in three of his last five starts, going 2-1 with a 4.34 ERA in that span. Frankie Montas (4-2, 3.83 ERA) will start for the A's.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.