Quintana, HRs help White Sox sweep Astros
CHICAGO -- Jose Quintana allowed one run in seven innings and Adam LaRoche, Geovany Soto and Jose Abreu each had a home run to lead the White Sox to a 4-1 victory over the struggling Astros on Wednesday night, spoiling the Major League debut of heralded Houston pitching prospect Vincent Velasquez.
Quintana (3-6) recorded his first win since May 13. The left-hander has 42 career no-decisions -- the most in the Majors since 2012 -- and he appeared possibly headed for another one before the White Sox power bats came alive late.
"For pitching in the tough luck he has in his career, he has an amazing ability to just stay focused on what he can control," Chicago manager Robin Ventura said of Quintana. "Attitude-wise, he's great. He comes in every day, gets his work done, works very hard and stays optimistic, and just takes care of his business.
"Tonight, he did the same thing, and we got some homers late."
Chicago's homers overshadowed an impressive debut for Velasquez, who tossed five shutout innings and left with a 1-0 lead before receiving a no-decision. The 23-year-old right-hander allowed just three hits and walked four. He struck out five.
The Astros have lost seven straight. They've scored a total of 16 runs during the losing streak and have managed to score more than two runs in a game just once.
"It's a difficult trip, to say the least," said Astros manager A.J. Hinch. "I think it's time for us to go home and rid ourselves of this last week, and then pick ourselves up in front of our home crowd."
Chicago reliever Zach Putnam struck out the side in the eighth and closer David Robertson pitched the ninth for his 13th save.
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Two big solo acts: With the White Sox trailing, 1-0, LaRoche tied things up with a long solo homer to right-center against reliever Will Harris in the sixth inning. Soto then gave Chicago a 2-1 lead when he led off the bottom of the seventh with a homer on the first pitch from reliever Tony Sipp. Abreu provided insurance with a two-run blast in the eighth.
"He's a great pitcher," Abreu said of Quintana through an interpreter. "Every time he's on the mound, we try to support him with some runs. I'm glad we were able to do that tonight."
Making the sacrifice: Of the Astros' seven hits, it was a flyout to left field that proved to be the lone RBI. After a double and a throwing error, Chris Carter jogged home after Jake Marisnick's shot went deep enough to avoid a close play at the plate.
"I think we swung the bat better than the scoreboard indicated, but that doesn't really account for much," Hinch said.
Springer's singles: Houston right fielder George Springer found a groove, hitting five singles in five at-bats to set a career high. Springer now has 15 hits in his last 10 games while raising his average to .254.
"I'm just trying to slow things down and get to first base for the guys up behind me," Springer said. "I was able to get to first base tonight, and hopefully it continues." More >
Melk money: With the score tied at 1 in the top of the seventh and Springer on first, White Sox left fielder Melky Cabrera kept the game tied with a leaping catch at the wall to rob Preston Tucker of an extra-base hit, potentially a homer.
"This trip has taught us a lot about what it's going to take to be better. Some of that is scoring runs in different ways, some of that is controlling 90 feet, some of that is making pitches when the game is close. We just haven't executed to the best of our ability in a lot of different facets, and the scoreboard is indicating that." -- Hinch on his team's seven-game losing streak.
"Every time you wait for that. But first you have to deliver a good outing, and after that you wait for the support. Tonight we had a pretty good night." -- Quintana on run support.
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After pitching five scoreless innings, Velasquez became the third pitcher in the club's history to toss five or more scoreless innings in his Major League debut. Jarred Cosart last accomplished the feat in 2013, and Carlos Hernandez was the first when he did it in 2001.
Looking to catch the Astros off guard, Ventura had right fielder Avisail Garcia steal second base in the second inning. Houston was ready, and Garcia was unable to beat the tag, but Ventura didn't waste much time to dispute the call. The call on the field was ruled to stand, though.
Houston was a bit luckier at having a call overturned, when Hinch won a challenge in the eighth inning. LaRoche was called safe at home plate, beating out a throw from Springer in right field. But the call was overturned as catcher Jason Castro's tag was ruled to have come in just in time.
Astros: Houston has an off-day before Carlos Correa makes his home debut against the Mariners on Friday at 7:10 p.m. CT to begin a five-game home stretch. Left-hander Brett Oberholtzer (0-1, 3.75 ERA) has been unable to last longer than six innings in his three outings this season, but he aims to get back on track when he takes the mound. The Astros will get their first look this season at Seattle ace Felix Hernandez.
White Sox: Following a day off on Thursday, the White Sox begin a five-game road trip Friday night against the Rays with a 6:10 p.m. CT first pitch. John Danks (3-5, 5.17 ERA) gets the start. The left-hander is 5-3 with a 3.94 ERA in eight career starts at Tropicana Field.
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