White Sox-Astros Preview
Solid starting pitching has the Houston Astros in the midst of a rare winning streak.
Dallas Keuchel, who has been impressive of late, looks to lead Houston to a fourth straight win Sunday when he gets the nod against the Chicago White Sox.
Houston (25-44) beat Chicago 4-3 on Saturday to record only the club's third winning streak of three or more games this season. The starting rotation has played a big part, posting a 1.37 ERA across 19 2-3 innings.
Going back further, Astros starter own a 2.42 ERA over the last 19 games while the team is 11-8.
Lucas Harrell gave them another strong start Saturday, giving up seven hits and three runs while striking out a season-high seven over 6 2-3 innings.
Homers from Jason Castro and Chris Carter in the fourth led Houston's offense. Carter, who leads the team with 36 RBIs, is the first Houston player with 14 or more home runs by June 15 since Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee in 2008.
Keuchel (3-3, 4.37 ERA) tries to continue his own strong run, as he owns a 1.89 ERA over his last three starts, pitching at least six innings in each.
The left-hander's bid for a fourth victory in five starts was upended Monday, though he gave up just two runs and seven hits in six innings in a 3-2 loss at Seattle. Houston committed three errors and offered Keuchel only one run of support.
"It's nothing I get mad about," Keuchel, who had received 26 runs of support over his previous five outings, told the team's official website. "Like I said, they pick me up plenty of times, so it's just me trying to pick them up there."
The White Sox (28-37), who have lost 11 of 12 away from home, will counter with another southpaw in Hector Santiago (2-4, 3.12). Santiago, who has fluctuated between the rotation and the bullpen all season, made his first start since May 22 last Sunday, filling in for the injured Jake Peavy. He yielded two runs and four hits across 6 1-3 innings in a 4-3 victory over Oakland.
He's generally been a better option as a starter, going 2-2 with a 2.67 ERA in six starts as opposed to an 0-2 record and 3.93 ERA in 11 relief appearances.
"When stuff like this happens, you take advantage of it and just run with it," Santiago said. "We're all hoping for Peavy to come back as soon as possible, but for now, I'll enjoy the role."
Santiago was charged with two runs, a walk and a hit in 1 1-3 innings of relief against Houston on June 8, 2012.
Alejandro De Aza was 0 for 4 Saturday, rejoining the lineup after missing Friday's game with a stomach ailment.
Adam Dunn hit his team-leading 18th homer Saturday, and is batting .429 with five home runs in his last six games after hitting .111 with two homers in his previous 15. He is, however, 5 for 53 (.094) with 21 strikeouts against lefties on the season.
The 25-year-old Keuchel has never faced a current White Sox player.