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|A.J. Hinch took over as Houston’s manager before right-hander Lance McCullers’ rookie season in 2015 and the two have long held a special bond.
So when McCullers came off the mound after striking out a career-high in 12 in seven strong innings in an 11-4 win over the White Sox on Friday night Phil Kessel Jersey , Hinch wanted to make sure he let his pitcher know how impressed he was with his big night.
He did that by enveloping him in a huge bear hug as soon as he reached the dugout when his work was done.
”I was so happy with the progress,” Hinch said. ”He’s got so many options now against any hitter. … I love the growth that’s happening for him as a major league starting pitcher. … He knows what he’s going through and how he’s taking steps forward. It’s cool to have a moment with him.”
Evan Gattis hit a three-run homer in Houston’s seven-run eighth to help the Astros to the victory.
McCullers (10-3) didn’t allow a hit until a single by Adam Engel with one out in the sixth, and gave up just three singles and one run. He kept the White Sox off balance with a flurry of curveballs to outdo his previous career best of 11 Ks.
”I came up in 2015 and was really just a young kid,” McCullers said. ”I had to learn a lot and he’s definitely been someone who has really helped me along the way in all phases as a pitcher, a baseball player and as a person. I give a lot of credit to A.J., the veterans, the staff.”
Chicago manager Rick Renteria raved about his curveball.
”His breaking ball today was sweeping with some depth,” he said. ”Strong breaking ball. It was a lot of breaking balls. Even going to the plate to be honest (and) looking for it, that thing was falling off the table pretty good.”
The Astros took a 1-0 lead in the third on an RBI single by Yuli Gurriel. Tim Federowicz hit a two-run double in the fourth to make it 3-0.
After Engel’s single in the sixth, Yoan Moncada sent him to third with a single to right field. The White Sox cut the lead to 3-1 with a third straight single, this one by Yolmer Sanchez. After a quick visit to the mound, McCullers was able to limit the damage when Jose Abreu grounded into a double play.
The Astros added a run in the seventh on an RBI double by Gattis to make it 4-1. They broke it open in the eighth inning thanks in part to the homer by Gattis, who finished with three hits and four RBIs. The towering shot off Hector Santiago landed on the train tracks atop left field. Two more runs scored in that inning on an error by right fielder Avisail Garcia when he misjudged a fly ball hit by Gurriel and it bounced behind him just inside the line and sailed into the stands.
Chicago starter Reynaldo Lopez (4-6) yielded six hits and three runs while tying a career high with five walks in 4 2/3 innings to snap a two-game winning streak.
McCullers won his fourth straight decision to join Charlie Morton as the first Houston pitchers to reach 10 wins this season.
He was tough from the start of this one, retiring the first six batters, including striking out the side in the second, before hitting Kevan Smith with a pitch to start the third. But he got right back on track, and struck out the next three to end the inning as part of 10 straight he sat down before Engel’s single in the sixth.
Garcia, whose career-best 14-game hitting streak was snapped Thursday night, hit a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth, and Daniel Palka followed with a solo shot off Brad Peacock.
White Sox: SS Tim Anderson was out of the lineup a night after being plunked on the left forearm. Anderson said he was sore but OK and Renteria expects him to return to the lineup Saturday.
Astros: Manager A.J. Hinch said he believes that C Brian McCann will return before the end of the regular season after he had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Tuesday. ”I do expect him back,” Hinch said. ”I don’t know when … and he’s got a lot of things he needs to do to get back to playing, but I absolutely expect him to be back.”
The Astros dedicated Friday’s victory to Cameron Gooch Sidney Crosby Jersey , a 10-year-old who is fighting cancer and attended the game as part of his wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Gooch was helped to the mound by Hinch and Gattis to throw out the ceremonial first pitch and they both wore orange armbands he gave to them during the game.
Morton (10-2, 2.55 ERA) opposes James Shields (3-9, 4.12) when the series continues Saturday. Morton took his second loss of the season in his last outing when he allowed six hits and two runs while striking out 11 in 6 2/3 innings against Tampa Bay. Shields yielded four hits and a run in 6 2/3 innings in his last start, but did not factor in the decision in a 5-3 loss to Cincinnati.
Neither Jarrod Dyson nor Justin Upton could tell whether Upton’s bases-loaded line drive to the deepest part of center field would have made it out of Angel Stadium.
Dyson made sure nobody will ever know with a leaping, lunging catch that might have saved a win for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Paul Goldschmidt hit an early two-run homer and Zack Greinke pitched into the seventh inning of the Diamondbacks’ 12th victory in 16 games in June, 7-4 over the struggling Los Angeles Angels on Monday night.
Dyson had an early RBI single, and he prevented at least a couple of runs in the seventh with his catch on a possible grand slam by Upton. The nimble outfielder made it look relatively easy, turning Upton’s shot into a 390-foot sacrifice fly.
”It was real sweet to take four off the board like that,” Dyson said. ”I don’t know if it was going to go over, but if I didn’t catch it, there was going to be more than one baserunner scoring.”
Greinke (6-5) gave up back-to-back homers by Upton and Albert Pujols in the fourth, but the Diamondbacks backed him with six early runs, responding well after blowing a two-run lead in the ninth inning of a home loss to the Mets on Sunday.
Greinke left after giving up Kole Calhoun’s one-out single in the seventh with a 6-2 lead. Two more Angels reached base against Yoshihisa Hirano before Dyson dramatically tracked down Upton’s full-count drive to the wall.
”I knew I hit it hard, and it was going to be at least off the wall,” Upton said with a grimace. ”He was in good position, and he’s fast, and he just got it. … I did my job. I hit the ball on the barrel, and I thought I had a home run. That’s baseball.”
Mike Trout nearly pulled his own leaping feat moments later, but Nick Ahmed’s homer glanced off his glove on the way over the center-field fence in the eighth for Arizona’s final run in its ninth win in 11 games.
”He’s one of a kind,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said of Dyson, who thinks he has taken away at least three potential homers by opponents this season. ”You just appreciate every play he makes, every little thing he does.”
Ketel Marte also homered and Jeff Mathis had a two-run double for the Diamondbacks.
Trout had two singles and two walks for the Angels Tom Kuhnhackl Jersey , who have lost seven of eight to fall well out of playoff position in the AL.
Upton – the Diamondbacks’ No. 1 pick in the 2005 draft – and Pujols connected to start the fourth for the Angels’ first back-to-back homers since last August.
”I think we have the makings to go on a run,” manager Mike Scioscia said. ”We’re still a good club, and we’ll just focus on (Tuesday’s) game.”
Arizona led 2-0 after two batters in its first game at Angel Stadium since June 2015. Goldschmidt followed Jon Jay’s leadoff single with his 15th homer, giving him 26 hits in his last 51 at-bats during another torrid stretch for the Diamondbacks’ cornerstone.
Trout leads the majors with 62 walks and is batting .439 in June, but he didn’t score a run. He also was caught stealing for the first time in 14 attempts this season by Mathis.
Jaime Barria (5-3) yielded six hits and six runs in four innings for the Angels. The 21-year-old Panamanian rookie lost his second straight start after winning five of his first seven in the majors. ”Obviously, I wasn’t locating my fastball,” he said.
Archie Bradley got four outs for his third save. He threw 19 consecutive fastballs before his first off-speed pitch, and Upton grounded it into a double play for the first two outs of the ninth.
Pujols’ homer was the 626th of his career, pulling him closer to Ken Griffey Jr. (630) for sixth place on baseball’s career list. Pujols scored the 1,751st run of his career, tying Jimmie Foxx for 21st place.
Diamondbacks: OFs Steven Souza Jr. (strained pectoral) and A.J. Pollock (broken thumb) are making progress in their recoveries, but aren’t cleared for full baseball activity.
Angels: After batting .145 before his injury, Calhoun went 2 for 3 in his return from a nine-game absence with a strained right oblique muscle. Even with Calhoun back, the Angels have 13 players on their disabled list, including nine pitchers. … Right-handed reliever Jim Johnson played catch. He is out with back stiffness. … RHP Garrett Richards is playing catch, but still resting his left hamstring strain.
Diamondbacks: Matt Koch (5-3, 4.09 ERA) is 3-0 in four starts since May 22. He has never faced the Angels.
Angels: Relief pitcher Felix Pena (0-0, 10.13 ERA) is expected to make his first start of the season while Los Angeles patches a hole in its injury-plagued rotation. The offseason acquisition has been up and down from Triple-A Salt Lake, never earning a regular spot in the bullpen.
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