White Sox try to even series with Astros

HOUSTON — Yuli Gurriel delivered the walk-off hit that lifted the Houston Astros to victory on Thursday in their series opener with the Chicago White Sox at Minute Maid Park.

The clutch at-bat came as no surprise considering Gurriel leads the American League in batting with runners in scoring position.

That George Springer and Marwin Gonzalez contributed to the ninth-inning rally was additionally good news for the Astros (58-31). Springer entered the series with a slash line of .100/.222/.157 since his last multi-hit game on June 10 and was 0-for-4 before muscling a game-tying single to center that scored Tony Kemp. Gonzalez, slashing .098/.193/.157 over his prior 15 games, emerged off the bench and delivered a pinch single that pushed Kemp to third.

“If you’ve been around our team at all the last couple days to weeks, to have George Springer and Marwin Gonzalez be a part of the celebration having contributed the way they did, that’s all they want to do is contribute to something positive,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said.

“Yuli should get as much praise as anybody to end the game, but really proud of George and Marwin to get in on the party.”

Right-hander Lance McCullers (9-3, 3.55 ERA) gets the start for the Astros on Friday. He is 1-1 with a 2.60 ERA over three career starts against the White Sox, including an outing on April 22 when he allowed one run on eight hits and one walk with three strikeouts over six innings in a 7-1 win. McCullers twirled seven scoreless innings at Tampa Bay in his previous start and went 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA over five starts last month.

White Sox right-hander Reynaldo Lopez (4-5, 3.68) is scheduled to make his 18th start of the season and second against the Astros. He is 2-1 with a 2.63 ERA over his last four road starts. The White Sox are providing Lopez with just 3.95 runs of support, the 15th-lowest mark in the AL. In his lone career start against Houston, Lopez allowed one run over five innings but did not factor into the decision while working opposite of McCullers.

With the non-waiver trade deadline looming at the end of this month and the rebuilding White Sox (30-57) out of contention, attention has shifted to the potential veterans who might be shipped elsewhere before the calendar turns. First baseman Jose Abreu and right fielder Avisail Garcia are popular names bandied about the rumor mill while veteran reliever Joakim Soria has been mentioned as a target for contenders seeking bullpen help.

Soria suffered the loss in the series opener, allowing two runs on three hits and two walks while recording just one out in the ninth inning of a 4-3 loss. The Astros, interestingly, have been reported to potentially have interest in Soria. As for the White Sox, they’re ignoring the noise.

“For us, it’s not something that’s been a topic of conversation,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “So we’re able to allow them to just continue to try to develop and try to improve and get better.”