Houston is on a roll

Astros secure series over White Sox with sixth straight win

Houston's Jose Altuve
Houston's offense helped extend the Astros winning streak Saturday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Houston's offense helped extend the Astros winning streak Saturday night.

With the exciting walk-off win thanks to Yordan Alvarez in the bottom of the ninth in game two, Houston had a 2-0 grip on this series, looking to secure the series with a win on Saturday night. They'd get it done, thanks to more offensive success, grabbing their sixth straight game.

Final Score: Astros 7, White Sox 3

Astros' Record: 42-28, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez (4-0)

Losing Pitcher: Lance Lynn (7-3)

Astros pull away with big third inning

The early goings gave the impression that this one may go down to the wire again, with Houston and Chicago grinding out one run each through two and a half innings. Houston's game in the bottom of the first, as Jose Altuve would reach on an error, move to third on a single, then score on a wild pitch. Chicago tied things up in the top of the third against Framber Valdez, getting a two-out single followed by an RBI double to make it 1-1.

Houston would not leave the game tied for long, getting back in front on an RBI single by Michael Brantley in the bottom of the third. They went on to load the bases, setting up a big three-RBI double by Robel Garcia to push the lead to 5-1. They added another in the bottom of the next inning, with Brantley getting his second RBI in as many innings on a double to make it 6-1.

Valdez goes seven and gives up three

Valdez kept rolling along on the mound or Houston, rebounding from the one-run third to erase a walk in the fourth, getting a 1-2-3 fifth, then erasing another walk in the sixth to keep it 6-1. Chicago would finally get to him in the top of the seventh, getting a solo home run to start the frame, then later watching a single score after a flyout and throwing error moved the runner around. That would be the end of Valdez's night, still an overal success: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 1 HR, 108 P.

Houston secures the series win

Now a 6-3 game, Ryne Stanek game in for the top of the eighth to try and keep it there. Although he'd deal with traffic on two singles, he'd accomplish his mission. Carlos Correa added an insurance run in the bottom half, getting an opposite-field solo homer to make it 7-3. With Ryan Pressly already warm, he would come in for the top of the ninth to close things out, sitting down Chicago 1-2-3 to wrap up the victory, which gives Houston the series and makes it six games in a row.

Up Next: The Astros will look to complete the four-game sweep in the finale at 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. It'll be a matchup of friends and old teammates, as Dallas Keuchel (6-1, 3.78) for Chicago will make his first start against his former team, while Lance McCullers Jr. (3-1, 2.89 ERA) will take the mound for Houston.

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With both Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers making their way back from surgeries that sideline that Astros pitchers last season, and given the team's thin depth in their starting rotation, Houston fans and media have waited on bated breath for scraps of information to leak out of the notoriously secretive organization regarding their progress.

In a week full of mostly Hurricane Beryl-related bad news, the Astros organization had some discouraging news of their own when manager Joe Espada told the media that Lance McCullers has been shut down from pitching after his arm did not respond well to his latest bullpen session. The team says they are "formulating a plan for what's next."

Another Astros starter making his way back from injury is HOF-bound Justin Verlander. Verlander has been on the IL since June 16th with neck discomfort and, while there was initial hope that JV would only miss a start, his status has become increasingly murky as he is still apparently not close to returning.

Shifting from the health questions of the starters to the performance questions of the bullpen, some Houston fans have voiced concern via social media that Astros big-ticket 9th inning pitcher Josh Hader is not looking like a "shut-down" closer. Hader gave up more home runs in the first week of July (3) as he did the entire month of June (2).

In this week's episode of Stone Cold Stros, Charlie Pallilo and Brandon Strange discuss how the fluid dynamics of Astros pitching is impacting the competitive landscape of the division race. To watch the conversation, just click the video YouTube embedded in this article. To listen to the entire episode on podcast, search "Stone Cold Stros" in your favorite podcast app or click one of the following links.

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