George Springer picked a big moment to break out of a big slump. Behind one in the bottom of the ninth on Thursday, Springer fought off a Joakim Soria pitch and dropped it into short left-center to plate Tony Kemp with the tying run. One out later, Yuli Gurriel fisted a single over the drawn-in infield to send home Marwin Gonzalez with the 4-3 game-winner over the White Sox. Depending on the results of Seattle's game on the West Coast, the Astros might move ahead by 2-1/2 games in the AL West race.
Springer: Smiles after single
(c) Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle
Jose Altuve drilled a massive two-run homer off lefty Carlos Rodon in the fifth for a 2-0 Houston lead but Chicago responded with a pair off Justin Verlander in the sixth. Omar Narvaez slammed a solo shot. Yolmer Sanchez doubled to score Yoan Moncada with the tying run.
With Chris Devenski on the hill in the eighth, Leury Garcia gave Chicago the lead with a home run to center field.
Gurriel could have lessened the drama in the home half of the eighth after he singled, stole second and took third on Evan Gattis' deep fly but Gurriel was out at home when Josh Reddick tapped to the first baseman to quell the threat.
Joe Smith, who just returned off the disabled list, worked a scoreless ninth. Kemp pinch-hit and led off with a walk against Soria. Gonzalez pinch-hit and singled. That brought up Springer who was hitless in four previous attempts and has slumped through a sore back. Springer picked on a 1-2 changeup to tie the game. Alex Bregman walked to reload the bases but Altuve struck out before Gurriel punched an 0-1 fastball back into short center to start the celebration.
Verlander lasted seven innings and struck out ten but ended with a no-decision. His league-leading ERA rose again to 2.15. The ChiSox walked nine batters as well as giving up eight hits. Houston left 11 runners on base.
34,955 made it out to Minute Maid to watch the contest. The crowd should be even bigger Friday night when Lance McCullers (9-3) seeks his tenth win as he challenges Reynaldo Lopez (4-5) in the second game of the four-game series. Game time will be at 7:10 pm Central.
- Bob Hulsey