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Lopez strong; bullpen, bats falter against Astros

MLB.com

CHICAGO -- White Sox starting pitchers had struggled mightily recently, with Miguel Gonzalez, James Shields and Lucas Giolito each allowing at least seven runs each during their last outings, and Carson Fulmer completing just one inning Wednesday in Oakland. Reynaldo Lopez reversed that trend, if only for a day.

Lopez wasn't terribly efficient in a 7-1 series-finale loss to the Astros, needing 100 pitches to navigate five innings and walking four. But, pitching with a stomach bug he started feeling Sunday morning, he allowed just one run, keeping the White Sox competitive against a Houston team that had, in the last two days, outscored them 20-1.

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CHICAGO -- White Sox starting pitchers had struggled mightily recently, with Miguel Gonzalez, James Shields and Lucas Giolito each allowing at least seven runs each during their last outings, and Carson Fulmer completing just one inning Wednesday in Oakland. Reynaldo Lopez reversed that trend, if only for a day.

Lopez wasn't terribly efficient in a 7-1 series-finale loss to the Astros, needing 100 pitches to navigate five innings and walking four. But, pitching with a stomach bug he started feeling Sunday morning, he allowed just one run, keeping the White Sox competitive against a Houston team that had, in the last two days, outscored them 20-1.

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"That limited me to do my best. I wasn't able to throw as hard as I usually throw," Lopez said. "I didn't tell anybody because I knew that I could do my job. That kind of problem that can make for limitations or discomforts, it's not going to make me skip an outing, it's not going to be an excuse for me to not do my job."

Video: HOU@CHW: Renteria on Lopez's impressive outing

Most of the damage Sunday came against the White Sox bullpen rather than its starter. With the game tied 1-1 in the seventh, relievers Aaron Bummer and Bruce Rondon combined to give up five runs while recording just one out. After Rondon was removed, Nate Jones allowed all three of his inherited runners to score.

Rondon, who threw a career-high 47 pitches in his last appearance April 18, saw his ERA balloon from 2.84 to 8.10. Just 11 of his 25 pitches Sunday were strikes.

The White Sox had ample offensive chances throughout the game, but the big hit eluded them for most of the afternoon. Chicago got multiple runners on base in the third, fourth and sixth innings but were unable to score, finishing the game with seven men left on. Their lone run came in the second when Matt Davidson and Yolmer Sanchez connected for back-to-back doubles.

Video: HOU@CWS: Sanchez legs out an RBI double in the 2nd

Sunday marked the White Sox seventh straight loss and, since starting 2-0, they have lost 14 of 16 games. Chicago has been outscored 61-16 on its current slide.

"The only guy that can bring these guys down is going to be me, and that's not going to happen," manager Rick Renteria said. "No one likes walking away from any activity, any competition, on the bottom side of the outcome. No one. So they're having to understand and appreciating and respecting the loss knowing what's going on, and then they've got to put it to bed and get ready for the next one."

Adolfo cruising with caution signs up ahead

SOUND SMART
The White Sox 4-14 record is its worst 18-game start to begin the season since 1948, when the team started 3-15. Chicago's 1-8 start at home is its worst since 1950 (also 1-8).

HE SAID IT
"It's always good when you can see what other teams have done that have passed through this process. The Astros were at this point where we are now 4-5 years ago. I wouldn't say it's a motivation, but it's good to see. For us, it's a matter to keep confident."
-- Yoan Moncada, through team interpreter Billy Russo, on the White Sox struggles

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
In the bottom of the third inning, Jose Abreu came to bat with two men on. Abreu singled sharply to right field, and third-base coach Nick Capra waved Moncada home from second. Astros right fielder Josh Reddick came up cleanly with the throw and fired a strike to nab Moncada out at the plate. The White Sox challenged the call, but after a 1-minute, 15-second review, the call stood.

Video: HOU@CWS: Reddick throws out Moncada, call stands

"Unfortunately we didn't score that run but these guys, as you see them, it's not going to be for a lack of effort that our players at this point are hitting a little valley," Renteria said. "It's going to be simply about continuing to gain experience and continuing to work."

UP NEXT
The White Sox welcome the Mariners to Guaranteed Rate Field for a three-game home set beginning Monday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Miguel Gonzalez (0-3, 12.41 ERA) takes the hill in the opener. Gonzalez struggled his last time out against the A's, allowing eight runs in three-plus innings. Seattle will counter with right-hander Mike Leake (2-1, 4.50).

Max Gelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago.

Chicago White Sox