The Chicago White Sox powered their way to even this three- game series with the Houston Astros and look to close out a nine-game homestand on a positive note Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field.
Chicago was able to push its lead atop the American League Central Division to 1 1/2 games over Cleveland with Saturday's 10-1 pounding of the 'Stros and an Indians loss in St. Louis. The White Sox received a grand slam and five RBI from Adam Dunn, who is second in the majors with 19 homers and tied Harold Baines for 58th place on the all-time list with 384.
Dunn also has 12 career grand slams
Gordon Beckham collected three hits, three RBI and scored twice for the White Sox, who rebounded from an 8-3 loss in Friday's series opener and won for the 16th time in 21 tries. Alejandro De Aza tied a career-high with four hits and owns five multi-hit games out of seven played this month. He also scored twice and drove in a run, and is hitting .432 with six RBI and nine runs scored over his last 11 games.
Chicago may not have won if it wasn't for starter Chris Sale. Sale pushed his record to 8-2 by working eight shutout innings and allowing four hits with seven strikeouts.
"I'm not much for looking too deeply into stats. Nothing good really comes of it," said Sale. "It doesn't matter if your ERA is five or one, you're the one who still has to pitch and get the outs."
The White Sox are 4-4 on the residency and will begin a six-game trek on Tuesday against St. Louis and Los Angeles. White Sox outfielder Dayan Viciedo departed Friday's loss to the Astros due to cramping in both hamstrings and was not in the lineup in the middle portion of this set.
"It's tight, but I'm getting therapy on it, so it's starting to feel better," said Viciedo through translator on the team's site. "It's something that I'm working through it right now. I don't want to risk anything."
Viciedo is hitting .267 with 12 home runs and 29 RBI this season.
Philip Humber will handle pitching duties for the White Sox today and he is just 1-3 with a 7.38 earned run average in eight starts since his no-hitter on April 21 at Seattle. Humber ended a six-game winless drought (0-2) by tossing seven innings of two-run ball at Tampa Bay on May 29, but fell back into the loss column following a 9-5 setback to Toronto.
The Blue Jays knocked Humber around for five runs and seven hits, including a pair of home runs, through five innings. The right-hander fell to 2-3 in 10 starts this season to go along with a 5.68 ERA. Humber is 0-2 in six home starts and has never faced Houston. His previous win in the Windy City was last June 12 versus Oakland.
Houston had won three of five games until Saturday's pounding. Jordan Lyles was on the mound for the first 4 1/3 innings and didn't look so good, giving up five runs -- four earned -- and seven hits for the loss. Rhiner Cruz later surrendered Dunn's grand slam.
"He deserved a better fate," Astros manager Brad Mills said of Lyles. "He threw the ball extremely well, and then they got some baserunners and things kind of got away."
Jed Lowrie's ninth-inning homer -- his third in as many games -- was the lone offense for the Astros, losers in eight of their last 11. Lowrie's 12 homers lead NL shortstops. Third baseman Chris Johnson was not in the lineup due to flu-like symptoms and Matt Downs went 0-for-3 in his place. Johnson will most likely miss Sunday's game.
The Astros are 1-1 so far on a nine-game road trip and will also make stops in San Francisco and Texas.
Former White Sox draft pick Lucas Harrell takes the mound this afternoon for the Astros and was selected by Chicago in the fourth round of the 2004 Draft. Harrell has won three of his last four starts and is coming off a decent showing in Tuesday's 9-8 win over St. Louis in which he yielded four runs, three of which were earned, and eight hits in six innings.
Harrell was much better versus the Cardinals as opposed to his previous outing in a 13-5 setback at Colorado on May 30. The Rockies pounded out nine runs and 10 hits in five innings against the young hurler. Harrell, though, pushed his 2012 mark to 5-4 in 12 starts against the Cardinals and lowered his ERA slightly from 4.71 to 4.70. The righty, who is just 1-4 in seven road starts, will take on his former ballclub for the first time.
Houston and Chicago were participants in the 2005 World Series won by the White Sox in four games. It was Chicago's first title since 1917. The two clubs met again in interleague play in 2007, when the Astros won two of three games in the Windy City. Chicago holds an 11-9 advantage against the Astros with an 8-6 home mark during interleague action.