It’s hard to beat a team four straight games. The Astros gave it a shot on Monday at Minute Maid Park, but fell short, losing to the White Sox 4-2.
The Astros won the first three games of the series by one run. And on Monday they built a two-run lead through five innings with starting pitcher Bud Norris looking sharp. But the White Sox had a four-run sixth inning, keyed by a three-run triple from Dayan Viciedo, to take control.
The top three hitters in the Astros’ batting order – Brandon Barnes, Jose Altuve and Jason Castro had seven of the team’s eight hits.
Chicago’s four-run sixth inning that erased a 2-0 Houston lead. Houston starter Norris could have gotten out of the inning with a 2-1 lead but he couldn’t field a throw at first from second baseman Altuve for the third out, prolonging the inning.
For five innings, Norris looked unbeatable. But here came the sixth inning. It was an inning that the right-hander had his troubles. Norris (5-7) allowed four runs with the key blow being a three-run triple from Viciedo.
Norris gave up eight hits with four strikeouts and no walks. He allowed four earned runs in his six innings. He had allowed only eight runs in his previous five starts. His ERA was 2.28 through his first eight starts at home.
Chicago starter Jose Quintana threw 104 pitches in fewer than five innings. Quintana left after 4 2/3 innings trailing 2-0. He allowed five hits with three walks, one intentional, and five strikeouts.
Josh Fields looked good in his two scoreless innings, covering the seventh and eighth innings. He allowed only one hit with one strikeout. Wade LeBlanc retired the side in order in the ninth.
Jesse Crain, the fourth of Chicago's five pitchers and a former star at the University of Houston, pitched 1 2/3 innings of scoreless ball with three strikeouts.
Reliever Nate Jones (3-4) got the win and Addison Reed the save.
At the plate
Barnes had three hits to lead the charge.
Castro had RBI doubles in his first two at-bats off Quintana, giving the Astros' catcher four extra-base hits against left-handed pitchers in the series. Castro doubled in Altuve in the first inning and Barnes in the third inning.
Barnes led off the third, fifth and seventh inning with singles. The first singles were up the middle and the third to right field.
Chris Carter struck out to end the seventh inning of a 4-2 game with Barnes at third base and Altuve at second base.
Viciedo had a bases-clearing two-out triple off Norris that gave the White Sox a 4-2 lead, scoring Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko and Conor Gillaspie. Viciedo drove the ball to deep center, just out of the reach of Barnes.
Alex Rios got Chicago’s first two hits, a double off Norris in the first and a single off Norris in the fourth.
In the field
Right fielder Trevor Crowe made a nice running catch towards the right-field line to retire Viciedo for the third out of the second inning.
On the bases
The Astros had a season-high four stolen bases, two from Barnes and one each from Ronny Cedeno and Altuve. Barnes stole second base after both of his singles, giving him six steals on the season.
Milwaukee comes in for a three-game series starting on Tuesday. RHP Jordan Lyles (3-1, 3.48 ERA) will start for Houston.
After facing four left-handed starting pitchers in the series with the White Sox, the Astros are scheduled to face right-handed starters in all three games with Milwaukee. The Brewers will start on Tuesday Alfredo Figaro (1-0, 3.47 ERA), Kyle Lohse (2-6, 3.84 ERA) on Wednesday and Yovani Gallardo (6-6, 4.41 ERA) on Thursday. For Houston, LHP Erik Bedard (2-3, 4.82 ERA) will start on Wednesday and RHP Lucas Harrell (5-7, 4.48 ERA) on Thursday.
The games on Tuesday and Wednesday start at 7:10 p.m. Thursday’s game will start at 1:10 p.m.
In Lyles’ last outing, the 22-year-old tossed seven shutout innings and struck out a career-high 10 Mariners in Houston’s 6-1 win. Lyles got a no-decision as the Astros scored six runs in the top of the ninth inning.