CHICAGO – For one day in April, Phil Humber was perfect. He's been anything but since and his spot in the White Sox rotation may be in jeopardy.
Justin Maxwell, Jose Altuve, J.D. Martinez and Brett Wallace all homered to lead the Houston Astros to an 11-9 win over the White Sox on Sunday.
Humber (2-4) gave up the first three Houston homers, matching his career worst. He gave up six runs and six hits in 5 1-3 innings. Humber matched his career high with nine strikeouts, but was again plagued by inconsistency.
"I felt like I made a lot of good pitches," Humber said. "The ones I didn't make good pitches left the ballpark."
Humber had five straight strikeouts at one point spanning the third and fourth innings, but remained winless in 14 home starts dating to June 2011.
Humber is 1-4 with a 7.50 ERA since throwing a perfect game on April 21 at Seattle.
"It's hard to work your way out of it if you don't pitch," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Whether that's as a starter or out of the bullpen, I don't know. But it has to get better.
"He's still going to make that next start," he said. "You see flashes of it, but it needs to be more consistent."
Maxwell's mammoth two-run shot in the fifth put the Astros ahead 4-3. His homer was estimated at 461 feet, curling just inside the left-field foul pole into the second deck. The high, arching shot disappeared into a tunnel on the second deck. Ventura argued for an umpire review of the play, but the call wasn't reversed.
"I was hoping it was fair," Maxwell said. "I didn't even think about it until after Ventura came out. When I first hit it, I thought it was fair for sure."
Adam Dunn hit his 20th homer of the season and Paul Konerko added his 12th for the White Sox. Konerko also singled, raising his AL-best average to .365.
Orlando Hudson brought Chicago within two with a three-run shot in the ninth, his first homer as a member of the White Sox. That shot chased Houston reliever Fernando Rodriguez, but Brett Myers came on to finish the game for his 15th save in 16 opportunities.
Chicago broke a 2-all tie in the fourth when Alex Rios led off with a single, stole second, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on Alexei Ramirez's sacrifice fly.
"You look at it as kind of a wasted offensive day," Ventura said. "It's frustrating when you score like that. It's like when you get a guy that pitches great and you don't score anything. You got to get them together."
Lucas Harrell (6-4) tied a career high by going 7 1-3 innings, winning his first start against his former team. He gave up five runs and six hits and struck out five.
"I played with half those guys for two, three-plus years," Harrell said. "You know their tendencies, you know what they work on when they're in the cages. You go to those things and hopefully they're not hitting it."
The White Sox drafted Harrell in the fourth round in 2004, but waived him last July. Harrell has won four of his past five starts.
"He would have been tough today against anybody," Konerko said. "He was hitting his spots."
After a day off, Chicago begins a three-game series at St. Louis on Tuesday.
"Come Tuesday night, that's another little moment where we can respond again to a bad series," Konerko said. "We've done it probably six or seven times this year. We'll probably have to do it six or seven more times."
NOTES: The White Sox dropped two of three to Houston and their lead in the AL Central dropped to a half-game after Cleveland's 4-1 win at St. Louis.